Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Why we disqualified 5,000 runners from Lagos City Marathon: Official

“We also intend on having an exchange programme with the Kenyans to train Nigerian runners.”

• February 10, 2024
Lagos city marathon used to tell the story
marathon used to tell the story

Yusuf Alli, the technical director of Access Bank Lagos City Marathon, says no fewer than 5,000 runners who failed to pick up their kits on time were disqualified.

Mr Alli disclosed this in an interview with journalists on Saturday in Lagos.

Mr Alli noted that the last-minute rush by the intending runners after the expiration of the deadline for picking the kits would affect getting the accurate record of runners.

According to him, it is important that those who register for the marathon are timely in their online registration and in picking their kits for the race, to keep to the World Road Race’s standards.

“There were fewer runners in this year’s edition because many runners came late for the collection of their kits and we have to turn down about 5,000 that came on Thursday.

“People waited till the last minute and if we kept giving out kits until the last minute, we wouldn’t have an accurate number of runners – which is our start sheet.

“People should abide by the deadline given; it’s not that we don’t want them, but we want to keep to the rules of the game which is good for us.

“I believe the numbers will increase because there was a time we had over 120,000 runners in the marathon but when COVID-19 came, it disrupted the figures, but we are picking up gradually,” he said.

Mr Alli also pointed out that the 42-kilometre Gold Label race had witnessed significant improvement from when it started nine years ago.

“When we started the marathon, the time difference between the elite runners and Nigerians was 24 minutes, but today, it’s just 10 minutes, which means we are picking up.

“The world record in 1990 was 2:07 and the Nigerian record stood at 2:15 years after. For some years, we went to sleep and didn’t do anything, this affected us.

“If we have been busy, we would have improved more, but with what I have seen today, by the next two years, Nigeria will be in the world’s top athletes,” he said.

Mr Alli, a gold medalist at the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland, New Zealand, said that the marathon would look at ways to develop more Nigerian long-distance runners.

“By next year, we will concentrate on Nigerian runners; there was more focus on the elite runners this year because it’s a year for the Olympics and many of the runners want to qualify.

“By next year, we will narrow the elite runners to fewer numbers, and get them paid well; the money paid for 88 elite runners will be pruned to 20 elites, and then we will have room to increase bonuses.

“The bonuses will be increased from $10,000 to $20,000 which is a great incentive.

“For this year, the weather is not friendly so we are looking at a way of altering the date for the marathon,” he said.

Mr Alli, who is the Chairman of Nigerian Road Race, also spoke about the vision of his committee to improve the road races in Nigeria.

“What we will do to improve the quality of the road race is to streamline the numbers to have a clear-cut road race.

“From 2016 till now, we now have about 70 or more races in Nigeria, but half of the road races are not measured which gives room for discrepancies.

“We will henceforth certify the road races and measure them with accurate marathon devices to check malpractices.

“We also intend on having an exchange programme with the Kenyans to train Nigerian runners.

“It is cheaper to bring them to Nigeria than taking the athletes to Kenya; we will exchange notes to see where we can fit in with their programme,” he said.


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