The course for the Okpekpe international 10km road race will wear a new look when the seventh edition of the IAAF silver label event holds next week Saturday in Okpekpe a hilly, rusty town in Etsako East local government area of Edo state.
The Okpekpe race starts from Apana road, a beautiful asphalted road constructed some eight years ago by the erstwhile governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and ends in Okpekpe.
Comrade Oshiomhole’s successor, Godwin Obaseki has begun rehabilitation work on the road, which was designed to open up the towns in both Etsako East and West to the commercial city of Auchi. “We are eternally grateful to His Excellency, Godwin Obaseki for the rehabilitation work that is on-going on the road to Okpekpe and this has come at the right time for us organisers of Okpekpe international 10km road race, the first road running event in Nigerian and West Africa to be granted a label status by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) because it tallies with our plan to upgrade to a gold level status by next year,” said Mike Itemuagbor, an indigene of Okpekpe and promoter of the internationally acclaimed race.
“It was the construction of the road some eight years ago that informed our decision to stage the race to not only put Okpekpe and indeed Edo State on the map of the world as a destination of sort for sports in Nigeria but also to showcase the remarkable achievement of the Comrade Governor to the development of Edo state,” Itemuagbor added.
“Through the race, the world now knows that there is a beautiful place called Okpekpe and more importantly that Nigeria is a safe place instead of the gory pictures painted about the country by the international as an unsafe country to travel to. If foreigners who come for the race in a near rural area could be safe, it says a lot about the entire country.”
Itemaugbor specially thanked Governor Obaseki for the support he has given the race after his predecessor left office.
“Truth is, His Excellency has always been a big part of the race from inception and we knew of his interest then and we are delighted he has gone a step further by offering advice on a whole number of things that can be done to attract more corporate involvement in the organisation of the race,” said Itemuagbor.