On Saturday, November 9, 2019, the fourth edition of the annual event, Lagos Women Run (LWR) was held.
Many got out of bed very early, struggling to choose between their sleep and preparing to get to the venue of the 10km run, torn between weariness of waking up early and the anxiety caused by thinking about the challenge that lay ahead although voluntarily signed up for.
A glance through the minds of participants might have revealed the secret thoughts and fantasies of emerging the winner even though there was no form of training prior to the day of the event as against professional athletes who had been practicing for months. For many sports lovers, it brought back fun memories of past years, when they actively participated in inter-school sports competitions, during their early school years. Then, it was all about the cheers and fun derived from doing something other than academics.
With the run scheduled to take off at 6:30am, time was drawing closer. For many participants, it felt like butterflies were trying to find their way through the walls of their stomachs. Many had to postpone fantasizing and head to the start line before the whistle went off.
At the kick off venue, Tafawa Balogun Square, Onikan, it seemed like some people had passed the night there wearing their kits ready for the day. There were women of different ages and sizes waiting to start the race. Eager to win, a lot of women scrambled to be on the front line like that was a winning factor and that made those standing behind a bit discouraged before the race even started. After confirming that all was in place to get down to the business of the day, the programme coordinators signalled and the race began. While many had taken off hoping to see the finish line soon enough, others were not sure the race had begun, again all part of the fun.
It was interesting to see how people who started out with so much energy, now preferred to walk casually few minutes into the race and consoled themselves by saying “it’s all about the fun and experience” or “ winning is not everything” which immediately reinforced the lesson that it is not how well one starts but how well and strong one finishes a race that matters. Generally, it could be deduced that many of the participants signed up with the main aim of improving their health. There were women who walked and ran alternatively, some who dropped out of the race and others who ran all the way through, each person at her own pace. One remarkable observation was the level of peaceful social interaction and friendly ambience that existed that day, with people chatting and making new friends and cheering on as they ran or walked past other co-runners irrespective of ethnicity or religion.
About 40 to 50 minutes into the race, the finish line at Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere had its busy moments with more runners crossing it to their excitement and satisfaction of finishing a long distance run. However, the excitement rose to another level when the First Lady of Lagos State, Her Excellency, Dr (Mrs) Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu crossed the finish line. It reiterated her support for the initiative and her sincere wish that the great women of Lagos State engage in physical activity to promote wellbeing and prolong their lives. Winners were rewarded and medals presented to all deserving, but most importantly, everyone was congratulated for taking the chance to improve their health.
In an interview with the coordinator of LWR, Mrs Tayo Poopola, one of the aims of the event was to provide a platform where women can come together and share a common goal, such as fitness as well as social interaction and overall wellbeing. When asked what motivated her toward organising such impactful event, she indicated that sports was one of her hobbies and was indeed part of her life. Being the first Nigerian female Taekwondo black belt, it was expected. She added that LWR also aimed at empowering women by ensuring improved health and quality of life and that the support from the First Lady of Lagos State, who participated by walking all the way from start to finish, while encouraging those around her to do the same and not give up made it more fun and would go a long way in encouraging women all over to engage in health promoting activities around them. Furthermore, Mrs Poopola urged women on the need to care about their health as fitness is key and helps achieve a sound mind and prevent mental illnesses like depression. In conclusion, she said everyone should expect an even better experience next year.
It is important that some health benefits of running long distances be mentioned. These include
• It is a fun activity in a healthy way
• It improves the immune system
• It improves muscle strength
• It helps maintain blood pressure and cholesterol levels at healthy levels
• It allows for better sleep
• It tones the muscles
• It reduces stress
• It boosts mental health, improves memory and cognition. It also improves
concentration and performance
• It is a source of motivation as it gives sense of accomplishment
• It fosters nation building
Before running long distances, it is advised to check with your primary care physician for relevant recommendations. To conclude, we do our bodies great good by seeking out opportunities to stay fit always.
Health quote of the week:
“Run when you can, walk if you have to crawl if you must; just never give up”
– Dean Karnazes