Organisers of the annual Okpekpe International 10km Road Race on Thursday announced May 27 as date for the ninth edition of the Gold Label international competition.
Edo state Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu told newsmen in an interview that the 2023 edition would be run for two purposes.
One of the purposes, he said, was for the prize money and the second was to create awareness about Cancer and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
“We are happy that the Okpekpe road race is kept alive as we are getting closer to our target to make the race an event of a Diamond Label status.
“The 2023 race will be on gold label as we put in our best in make the race the best in the World.
“I will not be participating for a prize, but I will be running for a cause which is to create awareness for cancer.
“Apart from running for a prize, you can run for a cause. I encourage those that cannot run for the prize to run for a cause to encourage people to go for cancer screening and HIV testing for early detection.
“We have gone beyond the race as a sports event, as we have also brought in students to use sports to sharpen their knowledge and reduce social vices in the society,” Shaibu said.
The Edo deputy governor, however, assured the prospective athletes of adequate security throughout the duration of the event.
“Adequate security measures have been put in place to ensure that all residents and visitors, including athletes, coming into the state for the race are all safe and protected,” he added.
Also speaking, Zack Amodu, the Race Director, said athletes from about 10 countries were being expected for the competition.
Amodu said the athletes were expected to arrive in Lagos on May 23 from where they would proceed to Auchi on May 24 to familiarise themselves with the environment before the main event on May 27.
“Last year we organised a technical officiating course for officials with a view to enhancing the pool of the technical officials we already have in Nigeria.
“We are delighted to set the pace for road races in Nigeria and to become the first to have its course measured by a World Athletics-certified measurer and the first to be granted a label status,” he said.
The event’s chief marketing personnel, Mike Itamuagbor, in his remarks said the race would be ran on Gold Label because the race has gone international.
“The road race this year has added some few innovations as we will be partnering with the Edo University where about 200 students will work as volunteers for the event in the area of accommodation, medicals and media,” he said.
Also, the Chairman of Edo State Sports Commission, Yusuf Ali, said the Okpekpe road race has brought much honour to Nigeria.
Okpekpe is in the Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo.