Auchi town in Edo North is a beehive of activities as over 5000 athletes, officials and top government functionaries that includes Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has besieged the sleepy town for the third Okpekpe Race billed for Saturday.
26 foreigners from Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Morocco, Norway Ghana and host country, Nigeria, are set for the 10 kilometer race with over $100,000 price money at stake.
Auchi is already bubbling with hoteliers, motorcyclists, food vendors and market men and women making brick business.
The highlight of the race will be the elite race that will see Governor Oshiomhole running the 10 kilometer race with other top government functionaries. Oshiomhole was a delight to watch in the last two editions.
Commercial activities in the community and its environs has picked where most of hotels that will host the guests are wearing new looks, while others are expanding their facilities to accommodate more guests. Also, makeshift store are being erected along the race route.
Some athletes said they started training early in order to be in shape not just to win the state prize, but the star prize of $20,000. Usman Suleiman said it is absurd that foreign athletes have dominated the event since inception.
Meanwhile, former Nigeria track and field stars, Henry Amike, Tony Osheku and Yusuf Ali have hailed Mike Itemuagbor and his company, Pamodzi Sports Marketing, for putting Nigeria among the list of countries the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has counted worthy of hosting a world class road race in 2015.
The 10km Okpekpe road race is the brain-child of Itemuagbor and his company and was late last year granted a bronze label status by the world governing body, IAAF.
Events are races that the international world body designates as one of the leading road races around the world.