The organisers of the 5th Okpekpe 10km International Road Race have denied in strong terms speculations in a section of the sporting media that the Edo State Government spent N70million to instigate the one-day race a fortnight ago.
Yesterday, CEO of Pamodzi Sports Marketing, the franchise owner of the race, Mr Mike Itemuagbor, said in a statement that Edo State government did not bankroll the race as was been erroneously speculated.
The 2017 edition of the IAAF Bronze labelled race was dominated as usual by road runners from East Africa with Ethiopian trio of Luel Gebrasilasis (29mins 28 secs), Jima Bekele (29.34), and Dawit Fikadu (32.22) making a clean sweep in the male category. Another Ethiopian, Gebru Azemra ran 33. 59 to win the women’s event.
“The 2017 edition of the Okpekpe 10km International Road Race was not bankrolled by Edo State Government. I don’t know where the reporter who wrote that report got his fact before rushing to the press to misinform people. The 2017 edition was sponsored by Pamodzi Sports Marketing and its partners. This is the fact of the matter which is well known by everyone connected with the road race,” observed Itemuagbor in the statement.
While thanking Governor Godwin Obaseki for sustaining the involvement of the state in the race, Itemuagbor revealed that the Edo State government only offered to pay the prize money for the only IAAF and AIMS certified road race in the whole of West Africa.
“Edo State government is only involved with the payment of the prize money to the winners which is not anywhere in the region of N70million erroneously reported,” the Pamodzi chief executive clarified.
Despite the plaudits received by the organisers for the quality manner the 2017 edition was professionally handled, Itemuagbor insisted that the next edition promises to be better.
“Our target is to make the Okpekpe race an IAAF gold labelled event. We want to make Okpekpe race the preferred destination for the world’s best road runners just like what the London, Berlin, Boston and New York marathons have become today,” concludes the foremost sports marketer in the country.
The 5th edition which was better packaged by Pamodzi Sports Marketing, the franchise owners of the IAAF bronze label race. It lived up to the billing with Veronica Maina (34.19) and Alice Timbili (34.39) winning the second and third positions to complete an East African clean sweep. The top three finishers got $15,000, $10,000 and $7,000 in both the male and female categories.