Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom has flagged off the maiden edition of the Tito Makurdi Marathon Road Race with a promise to subsequently partner with the organizer to make it a global event.
The event, which was organised by the Tito group of companies, attracted participants from Benue, Abuja, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Plateau and Taraba States.
Represented by the Commissioner for Industry, Trade and Investment, Merga Kachina, the Governor expressed delight with the passion with which the over 200 participants went about the competition.
“It is inspiring to see committed people showing passion for running and indeed sport in general. Maybe in my next life, I shall come back as an athlete.
“I applaud your commitment and I’m sure many people will be inspired by you to live a more sporting and active lifestyle,” he said while commending company management for organizing the race for people across the country.
“We are here flagging-off an event put together by a young man who started plastic recycling in 1988 while doing his NYSC. A man whom N17,000 as capital was enough for him to venture into business. This is synonymous to all sports, every athlete prepares through rigorous training.
“In life, we are all runners, little wonder, you hear politicians every four years. So, don’t be surprised if I start the race with our well prepared marathon runners.”
Ortom noted that since assumption of office, he had introduced business-friendly policies to keep existing businesses and encourage private investors to harness the opportunities in the State.
In a chat with newsmen, Chairman, Tito Group of Companies and organizer of the Benue Makurdi Marathon Road Race, Chief Isaac Akinkumi, explained that he decided to institute the marathon race to promote distance race in the state as a way of encouraging youths to take advantage of the natural landscape of Benue.
He encouraged people to engage in sports for their physical and mental development and urged parents to show interest in developing their children not just in the field of academics but also on sports so as to get their full potentials.
Chief Akinkumi who posited that sport is a unifying factor of bringing Nigerians together promised to establish Tito Sports Academy that would develop children between the ages of six and 15 years in order to capture sporting talents in the state.
Winners in the race include Isaac Matthew from Kaduna State who came first in the men’s category in 1hr 41mins and Elizabeth Nuhu from the Nigerian Custom Service, Abuja emerged winner in the female category in 1hr56mins.
Shimineger Agbe and Sandra Iorhembe from Benue State won the second and third positions, respectively.
Governor Ortom presented the awards to the winners Isaac Matthew, Orduhga Gudu and Jimi James.
Speaking to newsmen, Isaac Matthew, who won the star prize of N50,000, noted that it was his first time coming to Benue State adding that, although the weather affected his time performance, he was thankful to God for winning the race.
‘This is my first time in Benue, Makurdi precisely. Initially, I was told that the race was for 21 kilometers but I ended up running 32 kilometers which took me closed to two hours finish. The course was not easy, especially the finishing point. The starting point was okay but the finishing point was heavy because of the sun.
“During the Abuja sports festival, I ran 21 kilometers for 1.10mins but today I ran almost two hours because I didn’t see people that can run the race and draw me to be faster. However, the competition is very good and am working towards becoming the best Marathon runner in Nigeria,” Mathew said.