Sadjo, Mwavwang set to defend Okpekpe race titles

The duo of Ismael Sadjo and Patience Mwavwang will be seeking to successfully defend the Okpekpe international 10km titles they won last year.

Sadjo ran 31:53 to win the event last year but will need to be at his very best and prepare to break 31 minutes for the first time in his career to ward off the challenge that will be posed by Francis James who ran 30:47 to win the 10km race at the Lagos Access Bank marathon in Lagos in February.

Gang James Boyi (30:51) also ran inside 31 minutes in Lagos will also be in Okpekpe to challenge for the title.

Sadjo’s best in Okpekpe was the 31.06 he ran to win at the inaugural edition of the race in 2013 (before the label status) and a repeat performance could earn him the title for the second straight year.

For the women, David Abiye will challenge Mwavwang for the title but the defending champion will hope to get the better of her in-form challenger just like she did in Lagos last February in the 10km race at the Lagos Access Bank marathon.

Mwavwang ran a new 34:43 lifetime best (probably a new Nigeria record) in the race and will hope to become the first Nigerian woman to break 34 minutes over the 10km when she runs in Okpekpe.

Multiple winners, Deborah Pam will not be available this year as she has taken a leave off the road for procreation.

Stephen Nuhu, a long distance running coach who will accompany the athletes to Okpekpe is confident Nigerian athletes can get over the 30 minutes line and become internationally recognized very soon.

“The athletes have been training very well and I am confident they will soon become recognized as international elite athletes very soon which will make them available for other label road races around the world,” he said and praised organizers of the Okpekpe road race for always having the welfare of the Nigerian elite athletes among their top priorities.

“Okpekpe race organizers offer our athletes accommodation and transport subsidy, something we don’t get in some of the other races in Nigeria except the 10km road race we ran in Ilesha about two years or so ago,” he revealed.

There will be over a N100million  on offer as prize money at the race for the top five finishers in each gender category for the international elite field as well as for the Nigerian elite runners will battle for the prize money.

Winners in each gender category will go home with $15,000 while second and third place finishers will be rewarded with $8,000 and $5,000 respectively, with fourth and fifth going home with $3,000 and $2,000 respectively.

For the Nigerian elite athletes, a top prize of N500,000 will go to the winners of each gender category. Second to fifth place will be rewarded with N300,000, N200,000, N120,000 and N80,000 respectively.

Okpekpe road race, run over hills and tarred roads, starting from Apana Road and ending in Okpekpe town is the first road race in Nigeria to have its course measured by a World Athletics certified course measurer and the first to be granted a label status (bronze in 2015) by World Athletics.

This means Okpekpe road race is the first internationally recognized road running event in West Africa. It was upgraded to a silver level label staus in 2018 before it moved to gold in 2023. 

It is thus the first gold label 10km race ever run on Nigerian soil.

posted Friday May 24th
by Harrison Beeby