The Okpekpe International 10km Road Race has been awarded an elite label for its upcoming eighth edition scheduled to take place May 28, 2022, in Okpekpe which shares proximity with Auchi, Edo state of Nigeria.
Receiving the elite label is in line with the new categorisation of all road running events approved under the new Label Road Races Regulations approved by the World Athletics Council in October last year and which was activated in November 2021.
Under the new arrangement, road races are classified as World Athletics Label, World Athletics Elite Label, and World Athletics Elite Platinum Label. The new categorisation also impacts the ranking points available to international elite athletes, Olympics, and World Championships qualification slots offered by the highest-categorised competitions.
Okpekpe, the first road race in West Africa to be granted a World Athletics rating in 2015, is among the 93 road races across the globe and only seven in Africa to be awarded a World Athletics Elite Label.
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A World Athletics Label denotes high standards in event organisation, safety and runner experience, and application of the World Athletics Rules and Regulations among other considerations.
Mike Itemuagbor, the Chief Executive Officer of Pamodzi Sports Marketing, organisers of the race are delighted World Athletics still rates the organisation of the race very high even after a covid-19 induced two-year absence.
‘This is great news because it is a testimony of our organisational ability and of course strict adherence to the application of the World Athletics Rules and Regulations,’ he said and thanked the Edo state government for the support given to the race and corporate Nigeria for their trust.
Itemuagbor is confident the Okpekpe Road Race will be the first in Africa to be awarded a World Athletics Elite Platinum Label.
Edo State Deputy Governor, Comrade Philip Shaibu was clear about the direction the race is going when he said at the press briefing heralding this year’s race last month in Benin City that a Platinum label is the target.
”With the immeasurable support we have received from the government of Edo state since the inception of the race, particularly from His Excellency, Governor Godwin Obaseki who has been a part of the race since 2013, we believe we will score another first for Nigeria and this time Africa,” he said.
No road race in Africa is listed among the 12 events across the globe awarded the World Athletics Elite Platinum Label. The USA has three which include the New York Marathon, China two, Japan two, Germany one, and the London Marathon the only one awarded to Great Britain.