Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Athletes from Kaduna, Plateau and Nasarawa States went home on Saturday with a majority of the prizes in the second edition of the 32Km Tito Makurdi Marathon race held in Makurdi, the Benue State capital.
Adamu Muazu from Kaduna State completed the 32km marathon in 90 minutes to clinch the first prize of N100,000 in the national men’s category, while Raymond Simon and Daudu John, both from Kaduna, came second and third, respectively and were rewarded with a cash prize of N50,000 and N30,000, respectively in the same category.
For the female national category, Elizabeth Nuhu of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Abuja returned in 106 minutes to emerge winner and was rewarded with the sum of N75,000.
Jamila Aminu and Lovin Audu, both from Nasarawa, won the second and third prizes of N50,000 and N30,000, respectively in the same category.
Ameh Emmanuel and Shiminenge Agber, who came first in the local men and women category, respectively were rewarded with N20,000 cash prize each.
Speaking during the presentation of prizes to the participants, Managing Director, Tito Group of Companies, Asiwaju Isaac Akinkumi, noted that the aim of organising the yearly event is to inculcate in young people the spirit of competitiveness and to make a name for themselves.
Akinkunmi, whose Tito Group of Companies, organises the event annually, appealed to the state government to take more interest in sports, stressing that the importance of competitive tournaments.
The Tito boss, who gave the first consolation prize to 63-year-old John Igbokwe who participated and finished the race, recalled that Benue State used to be known for sports in the past, and prayed that there would be a return to the good old days where Benue would reclaim its lost glory.
While noting that 290 people drawn from 10 states participated in the second edition of the 32Km Tito Makurdi Marathon Race, Akinkunmi revealed that Tito had doubled the prizes to be won in the second edition based on national and local categories to encourage Nigerians to keep training for marathon.
He assured that his company would continue to sponsor the event every year in order to encourage sports in Benue and Nigeria as a whole, stating that plans are underway to institute the Tito under-15 football tournament for young people.
On his part, Benue State Director of Sports, Philip Nongo, commended the management of Tito Group of Companies for consistently organising the event for Benue and Nigeria athletes, saying it would encourage participants to compete for other major marathon races.
Represented by the Head of Coaching and Training, Benue State Sports Council, Jonathan Wombo, the Sports Director, stated that the Tito marathon is a wake-up call for Benue to look back at her good old days.
He said the second edition of the race was a marked improvement on the first edition and assured that there would be more improvements in each succeeding edition.
Speaking to reports shortly after receiving his prize, Adamu Muazu, who emerged first position in the male national category, said he had participated in so many marathon competitions in and outside Nigeria and has won several laurels.
He described the 32Km Tito Makurdi Marathon Race as one of the best marathons organized in Nigeria and expressed joy that he emerged overall winner in the male category. He appealed to the organiser to step up the prizes in order to attract more participants in subsequent editions.