Edo state government is to set up a technical committee to plan a three year development programme for the Okpekpe 10 kilometer road race ahead of the May 12 date already set aside for next year’s event.
Edo State Deputy Governor, Rt Hon Comrade Philip Shaibu disclosed this Monday when he played host to the organizers of the race, led by Chief Mike Itemuagbor who were at the Government House, Benin on an appreciation visit to government for the successful hosting of this year’s event which held last Saturday.
The deputy governor who received the visitors on behalf of Governor Godwin Obaseki said the technical committee is to ensure sustainability of the programme and also map out ways of bringing in more investors into the race to boost the economy of the host community and encourage more participation of local athletes as already announced by Mr. Governor.
Comrade Shaibu also praised the introduction of technology in this year’s race, saying that has brought credibility to the race and innovations.
“I congratulate you on the successful hosting of this year’s event. The most important aspect of this year’s event is the integrity that was emphasized. Playing by the rules of the game makes it real. This has also brought integrity to the race.”
He expressed joy that the race has brought Okpekpe into the eyes and hearts of sports lovers around the world, indeed, the map of the world. This, he said, will in turn attract potential investors to the community.
On his part, the head of the delegation and chief organizer, Mike Itemuagbor who announced May 12 as date for next year’s race, revealed that revenue from private sector this year had an increase of about 20 percent.
On improvements in upcoming editions of the race, Itemuagbor said beyond the use of transponders and split mast, the organizers are working on an upgrade to raise the standard of the event, to bring it to the same standard with the Boston and London marathons.
He explained that with the improved revenue generation, there would be more commercialization of the competition in successive editions.
On how to encourage more participation of local athletes, Itemuagbor said the bulk of the work lies on the table of the sports councils and ministry to train and encourage athletes while the local people must imbibe the culture of participation and should be hungry to challenge the foreign athletes, as the organizers have created a level playing field for all athletes.
Itemuagbor and his team also presented some souvenirs including the Okpekpe race goodies pack, towels, and customized tables to the governor in appreciation of his commitment to the sustainability of the bronze labelled international race.