Participants at the 2018 Okpekpe 10km Road Race had to overcome windy conditions and the downpour that began 6km into the race on Saturday, May 12th, to compete at the 6th edition of the event which has an IAAF Silver label.
Unlike last year’s race where the Ethiopians held sway, this time around it was their East African counterparts, the Kenyans, that dominated the competition even as they produced the Top 3 finishers in the men’s race and 2nd and 3rd positions in the women’s category.
Alex Kibet who was competing at the Okpekpe Road Race for the first time, stole the show as he stormed to a winning time of 29.46mins to finish ahead of his countrymen, Simon Cheprot (30.29mins) and Ronah Timothy.
Yami Dera Dida was the only Ethiopian to make the podium this year as she claimed the women’s title with a time of 33.01mins, with the Kenyan duo of Tuei Sandra Chebet and Kipyokei Eliana Chemtai following in 33.33mins and 34.24mins respectively.
Speaking to reporters after his victory, Kibet who has a Personal Best (PB) of 29.20mins and will cart home $20,000 dollars for his effort, disclosed that he would have run a faster time but for the windy conditions experienced during the race.
He said: “First of all I want to thank God for winning this race. This is my first time here. The course was not easy, especially the ending part. The start was okay but towards the end it was hilly. I hope to improve on my winning time next year. The rain made the times slower.
“At the start it was okay but the rain began 6km into the race. I think this is a good competition that deserves a Silver label but I’m sure with a few more improvements, they can get a Gold label”.
Meanwhile, Emmanuel Gyang was the first Nigerian man and 14th overall to cross the finishing line to claim the N1million at stake, improving on his 2nd position from 2017. Gidem Goyet and Ismaila Sadjo who finished 2nd and 3rd respectively will get N600,000 and N400,000.
Replicating her feat from last year, Deborah Pam emerged the first Nigerian female again and 11th woman overall, to finish ahead teammates Rose Akusho and Hudung Gyang Stephen.
Even though he considers his win a good performance, Gyang believes he would have done better under the right conditions: “I will say my performance was okay but the rain stopped me from reaching my target, because I came here with a goal, having trained for the 10km. I will now focus on the All Nigeria Championships where I hope to defend my titles in the 5000m and 10,000m”, he said.
Also competing in the race were the Governor of Edo State Godwin Obaseki, his Deputy Hon. Philip Shaibu, and former Governor of the state Comrade Adams Oshiomole, while Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung was a special guest at the occasion.