Abuja International Marathon: Elite athletes confident but worried about weather condition
Maiden Abuja International Marathon logo
By Victor Okoye
A number of international athletes on Friday expressed concerns over the weather condition in the city ahead of the maiden Abuja International Marathon on Saturday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports the weather forecast for Abuja is estimated at 35 degrees Centigrade with an expected humidity of 49 percent and wind speed of 14 kilometres per hour.
Some of the elite athletes who spoke to NAN said they were concerned that the humid and hot weather might affect their performance.
Mercy Kumbai of Kenya, with a personal best of two hours 27 minutes, said she was worried she might not be able to run her best due to the heat.
“I am not promising to run my best in this maiden Abuja marathon.
“My target is to run two hours 38 minutes, which is fair because of the high temperature and humid conditions.
“But I will still try to push myself to the limit and see if I can do probably two hours 35 minutes. Definitely, nothing lower than this,” she said.
On the reception she has received since her arrival in Nigeria, Kumbai noted that Nigerians were good and welcoming people, adding that the hospitality and local delicacies have been top notch.
Also, Kenya’s Emmanuel Naibet, who has a personal best of two hours eight minutes, said his observation of the weather conditions since his arrival in Abuja shows it was quite humid.
He however said his goal was still to improve on his personal best regardless of the conditions.
“Since my arrival in Abuja, I have been observing the weather here and noticed that it is a bit hot and humid in the morning.
“Notwithstanding the conditions, I still hope to push through and improve on my personal best.
“The main goal for coming to any marathon is to finish in good time and also aim for a podium finish.
“So, I am looking forward to running under two hours and nine minutes and then if that is enough to win the title, I will be very happy,” he said.
On his impression about Nigeria, Naibet noted that it was his first time in the country, but he was looking forward to enjoying himself and watching some nice Nollywood movies.
“I have heard so much about Nigeria and I am happy to be finally here. I plan on finding time to relax and watch some Nollywood movies, which the country is very famous for,” he said.
Dida Negasa from Ethiopia, with a personal best of two hours 29 minutes, said it was her third time in Nigeria, having participated in the Lagos Marathon in its last two editions.
“I am kind of used to the weather in this part of the continent. I took part in the last two editions of the Lagos Marathon where I posted a record of two hours 55 minutes and two hours 42 minutes.
“So, I am very optimistic about the Abuja marathon. Even though it is quite hot and humid here, I think I can give a good account of myself. But I really don’t know what to expect,” she said.
Thomas Olukayode, the Race Director, said no fewer than 32 International athletes and 121 Nigerian athletes had registered and were presently in Abuja to take part in the event.
Some of the international elite athletes at the press conference to herald the race on Friday in Abuja include: Naibet and David Kipkorir of Kenya (2 hours 11 mins).
Others are: Kure Takele of Ethiopia (2 hours 15 mins), Kenya’s Daniel Muidi (2 hours 09 mins) and Dickson Ngei also of Kenya (2 hours 12 mins).
The female international elite athletes present were: Kumbai, Negasa, Kenya’s Monica Cheruto (2 hours 32 mins) and full marathon debutant Ruth Jebet of Bahrain (1 hours 09 mins for half marathon).
NAN also reports that the winner of the international elite full marathon is expected to return home with 50,000 dollars as prize money.
The first- and second runners-up will pocket 40,000 and 30,000 dollars respectively.
There are other prize monies for the fourth to 10th position winners, ranging from between 20,000 to 2,000 dollars for the category.
Also, the winner of the international marathon for male and female Nigerian nationals only will receive three million Naira.
The first- and second runners-up will receive two million Naira and one million Naira respectively.
Other prize monies for the fourth to 10th position winners range from N750,000 to N100,000 for the category.
The 10km road race and 5km student race also has mouth-watering prize monies ranging from one million Naira to N250,000 for the top five finishers in the category.
The full marathon race (42.195 km) which begins at the Abuja City gate from 6 a.m. is expected to terminate at the Eagle Square.
The 10km race will start from 6.45 a.m. at the Wuye bridge.
The 5 km will begin at 6.15 a.m. from the bridge on Sani Abacha Way before Abuja Continental Hotel