Adedayo Akinbode: The Nigerian Marathon Runner Making Waves Worldwide

Adedayo Akinbode, a former Shell employee, made a bold choice that set her on an extraordinary path. Within a decade, she has conquered over 100 marathons across 77 countries on five continents, and she has no plans of slowing down.

Her ambitious goal is to run marathons in a record-breaking 196 countries. Akinbode spoke about how her participation in marathons raises awareness about Nigeria, especially in countries where Nigerians are rarely known.

Akinbode, a dedicated marathon runner, expressed the challenges she faces, stating, “Running marathons in 77 countries has been quite a challenging endeavor, self-funded thus far. However, I now require additional support to continue pursuing my goal.” She emphasized her determination to explore countries where Nigerians are rarely known, saying, “The more I visit these places, the more determined I become to spread awareness about Nigeria.”

Recalling her journey from an unfit lifestyle to a marathon runner, Akinbode shared, “Running marathons didn’t choose me; I stumbled onto it in 2012 when my doctor warned me about my health. I struggled to make necessary changes but ultimately ignored the report.”

She embarked on her first marathon, a half marathon in Accra, Ghana, in 2013, where she experienced the thrill of the crowd cheering for her. Filled with excitement, Akinbode sought another marathon, leading her to register for the full Dubai Marathon. With determination and preparation, she completed it, which became a testament to her ability to achieve what she sets her mind to.

Sharing her determination, she said, “I decided to be part of that one percent of marathoners, starting with a half marathon in Accra, Ghana. It was my first, and the support from the crowd was exhilarating.” Akinbode emphasized that her motivation isn’t driven by profit, stating, “I participate in marathons for the experiences and to promote Nigeria.”

To further her marathon endeavors, Akinbode joined clubs such as the Marathon Globe Trotters Club. She discovered that many runners aspired to run in Nigeria, recognizing the country’s potential to advance their ranks. In response, she initiated the Ile Ife Heritage Marathon in 2017, organized to meet global standards.

Regarding the establishment of the Ile Ife Heritage Marathon, she explained, “Nigeria lacked a marathon meeting global standards. With the support of fellow runners, we organized the Ile Ife Heritage Marathon in 2017.” Akinbode described the event’s significance, saying, “Starting at the University of Ife, we run through the campus, ending at the residence of the Oni of Ife, accompanied by cultural dances and festivities.” Participants leave with positive experiences and spread the word about their time in Nigeria.

Akinbode’s inspiring journey has not only transformed her own life but also contributed to promoting Nigeria and fostering cultural exchange through marathons. With her determination and passion, she continues to strive toward her goal of running marathons in 196 countries, leaving an indelible mark as a true ambassador for Nigeria.

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