Poster on Lagos City marathon
Justin Lagat wrote the following piece on the Lagos city marathon.
In a race that happened under unique measures including the number of participants being reduced to 300, and elite runners to 30, Kenya’s Emmanuel Naibei and Ethiopia’s Meseret Dinke emerged as the respective men and women 2021 Access Lagos City Marathon Champions.
At the start, all runners wore face masks and were required to start off with them and only discard them after covering some meters.
Both the men’s and women’s races appeared more like championship races given that there were little to no pacing and the runners were monitoring each other from the start. The men’s race had only one pacesetter who did not even get to go beyond the halfway point.
Naibei appeared to have been controlling the pace for the better part of the race often moving to the front and increasing the pace whenever it appeared to slow. At around 1hr 30 minutes into the race, Robert Kipkemboi made a bold move to break away. But it later turned out that he had done that too early and had to struggle towards the end of the race.
Deservingly due to his early role of pushing the pace early in the race, Naibei who had followed Kipkemboi, but in a more controlled pace, slowly began to close his gap. He came up to his shoulder and proceeded to take the lead as the latter tried for a few moments to go with him.
Kipkemboi would fade to fourth place in the end as Darega Geleta and Demiso Gudeta overtook him to take second and third positions respectively.
A pack of four women broke away at around the 1hr mark. The race that had started out relatively slow quickly turned into a fast one when Dinke took to the front. Within a short time, two runners; Dinke and Celestine Chepchirchir began to break away at the front.
Chepchirchir dropped the chase after a while and concentrated on taking the second position as Dinke relentlessly pushed harder at the front, aware that she was still on target to set a new course record.
The hard run by Dinke finally bore fruits as she crossed the finish line in a new course record of 2:28:51, which was also a new personal best time for her. Chepchirchir finished second.
Despite the absence of spectators along the route and the little number of runners, the organizers of the race did a great job in their live coverage and it was an interesting event to follow on social media.