In the face of terror, the Lagos City Marathon remains a message of hope.
On Saturday, February 6, Lagos State hosted a marathon with over 20,000 national and international athletes participating, including 50 élite ones. Many athletes arrived three days before they placed their running shoes on the Lagos asphalt to enjoy the city and the great nation. They were joined, on race day, by more than 1,000 volunteers, including politicians and celebrities.
The travel alert not to visit Nigeria notwithstanding—owing to security concerns—the marathon held successfully and without incident, and on a scale comparable to the New York City or London Marathon. Athletes commended the organizers of the marathon for making adequate logistics to ensure a hitch free and successful tournament.
Akinwunmi Ambode, who took over as governor of Nigeria’s most populous state on May 29, 2015, decided to take on the logistical nightmare, based on poor infrastructure, of bringing back the Lagos City Marathon last held three decades ago. After 27 years as a civil servant, he began his tenure with a message to foster a sense of community, while also reinforcing his goals of economic prosperity and growth.
While addressing the participants at the marathon’s finish line, Ambode said the state will collaborate with sponsors and stakeholders to make the tournament bigger and better, adding that the 2017 edition will take place, February 11.
In the wake of the recent suicide bombings in Northern Nigeria, the continuing war against corruption and the challenges of the Nigerian economy, the Lagos City Marathon brought a large dose of hope to Nigerians at home and in the diaspora, one that won’t be forgotten in a hurry.
These are the remarks of the governor as athletes crossed the finish line that awe-inspiring day:
Lagos State is glad to host athletes from different parts of the world today as we flag off the Lagos City Marathon. On behalf of the government and people of Lagos State, I welcome you all.
I welcome especially the IAAF First Vice President, Kalbaka Malboum, and the Gold, Silver and Bronze labeled runners who have come to participate in our marathon. We are greatly encouraged by the interest generated by this event and look forward to becoming an IAAF Gold Label race soon.
This is a historic moment as Lagos joins major cities in the world to promote the marathon. The last time this event held was 30 years ago. I stand here to tell you today that this event is here to stay.
We are committed to sustaining this event and ensuring consistent improvement to make it one of the best marathons in the world.
As a government, we are determined to make Lagos the hub of sports in Africa. We will embrace other international sports and Lagos will bid to host Continental and International sports tournaments.
With this we shall; beyond the competition, showcase our State to the global community as a choice destination for tourism and investment.
On this note, I wish to express huge appreciation to our sponsors, especially Access Bank, the Honorable Minister of Sports, the Athletics Federation and all our stakeholders especially volunteers and key officials. Thank you so much.
Once again, the Lagos Marathon is here to stay.