After months of preparation, the eighth Access Bank Lagos City Marathon kicks off today with Ethiopia’s Hayla Bazu Worku leading the team of foreign world-class runners to the Gold-Label race.
Worku is one of the fastest full marathon runners in the world, having participated in six world-class marathons and finishing in less than two hours nine minutes.
The 2014 Houston Marathon winner ran his fastest time of 2:05:25 when he finished in third place at the Berlin Marathon in 2010. He ran a time of 2:06:16 when he finished second at the Paris Marathon in 2009, ran 2:06:47 to place sixth at the Zurich Marathon in 2020 and ran 2:07:09 at the Dubai Standard Chartered Marathon in 2015, where he placed sixth.
In 2014, Worku ran 2:07:32 at the Houston Marathon where he emerged champion. He ran 2:08:48 at the Praha Marathon in 2017, where he finished second place.
Speaking with The Guardian, Chief Executive Officer of Nilayo Sports Management, organisers of the race, Bukola Olopade, said he is hopeful that the invited foreign runners would give good account of themselves by recording good results that will boost their aim of securing the Platinum Label status soon.
He also appealed to Lagosians to see the race as their own, adding that the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon had put Nigeria on the world map.
“Considering the good weather we have at the moment, I am sure some of the foreign runners will achieve good results by finishing below two hours nine minutes. That will be a big boost to the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon, and for residents in Lagos, we will continue to appeal to them to see this event as their own.”
They shouldn’t feel bad about the few hours of restriction of movement in certain area of the city.
“Those residing along the route, where the event will take place, should endeavor to cheer the runners.
They can eat their pounded yam and egusi soup while cheering them. We have good security arrangement along the route,” Olopade stated.
A total of 50,000 athletes, including 76 foreign runners from 22 countries across the world, are participatig in the marathon.
Another world-class foreign runner ready to burn the route today is Kenya’s John Komen, who won the 2019 Athens Marathon at a time of 2:16:34.
The 42-year-old Komen had recorded better time in past races; 2:07:13 in 2011, when he won the La Rochelle Marathon, 2:08:06 in 2008 at Reims Marathon, 2:08:12 at Paris Marathon and 2:08:13, when he won the Vanezia Marathon in 2009.
Kenya’s Barmasai David is another worldclass foreign runner with the biggest chances to prove a point at the race.
David has a personal best of 2:07:18 when he won the 2011 Dubai Marathon, the same year he placed fifth at the World Marathon Championships.
He has a very rich resume, and the brightest opportunity to stay tops following his familiarity with the Lagos City Marathon route, having won the 2020 race at 2:10:23 and placed second in 2022, at the 7th edition of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon at 2:13:37.
It is the same route and same weather.
David is also a winner of the 2010 Kenyan Standard Chartered Marathon, where he ran 2:10:31.
In the women class, the top leading world-class foreign runners include; Tinbit Didey, former champion of the Marrakesh Marathon, Esther Macharia, a former winner of Graz Marathon and winner of Bregenz Marathon. She has a personal best of 2:27:15 recorded in 2022 at the Grandma’s Marathon in America.
There is also Kenya’s Mercy Jerop Kwambai, another world-class runner, whose most recent performances may change some expectations at the Lagos City Marathon tomorrow.
Jerop, in the last two years, has been hot in her races across the world; at the Asics Firenze Marathon in 2021, she finished third with a time of 2:27:32. In 2022, at the Sparkasse 3-Lander Marathon, she finished second place at 2:30:15 and 3rd with a time of 2:33:43 at the 2022 Adidas Stockholm Marathon.