The Ministry of Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and Unicentral Resources Generation Limited are putting finishing touches to the first international marathon in Abuja, the Federal Capital of Nigeria.
The race, a full marathon (42.195 km), will start at The City Gate and finish at the Eagle Square.
Sources within FCT Ministry told our correspondent that the Ministry and Unicentral have contacted the World Athletics to recommend a Grade ‘A’ measurer who will measure and calibrate the route.
Our source also revealed that the race will parade a strong elite field, about a hundred Nigerian and international elite runners, will be in Abuja.
There will also be a 5km fun and family run to encourage the culture of running in FCT and environs.
Fatimah Waziri, a marathon enthusiast who resides in Abuja applauds the initiative.
“This is a huge achievement for this government, and I pray it becomes a reality soon. Abuja, more than any city, needs a race to showcase its beauty to the world and turn it into a global tourist destination, ” Waziri said.
“If you look at the major cities in Africa, Abuja is the only one without an international marathon. From Cairo to Cape Town, Rabat to Lagos, Dakar to Johannesburg, we are the only city missing from the international marathon calendar, yet we have one of the best road network in Africa.”
Waziri said the race will boost local economy, especially the transport sector and hospitality business.
Said Waziri, “We have seen from Dubai, London, New York, Paris, Beijing, Cairo, Tunis, Rabat and lately Lagos, how marathons and road races enhance a city’s status. Today marathon is one of the criteria for judging cities as tourist destinations.
“The health benefits of running cannot be quantifiable and more importantly, an international race in Abuja will encourage our youths, who like East Africans are highly talented in marathons and road races, to embrace it as a career”.
Officials of FCT Ministry Media Department want to wait for the official announcement before speaking about Abuja International Marathon, “there will be a world press conference next month where the Honourable Minister will unveil Abuja International Marathon to the world, and then we can comment, so we advise that you wait till then.”
Unicentral Managing Director, Zsuszanna Ogunmiloyo confirmed that Unicentral is working with FCT Ministry to deliver a world class marathon in Abuja in 2021, promising that details will be unveiled by February 2021.