A total of 23 foreign athletes from nine countries are expected to arrive in Nigeria today for the maiden edition of Kaduna Marathon holding on Saturday.
Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, is hosting the marathon to, according to him, encourage peaceful co-existence and friendliness in his state, as well as boost its economy, empower and engage the youths, encourage healthy lifestyle and bring in tourists from different parts of the world.
The governor has urged the citizens not only to participate in the race, but also support contestants and officials.
He announced yesterday that to stage a successful and safe race, some roads in Kaduna metropolis would be closed on Saturday from 6.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m.
A statement from the Steering Committee of the Kaduna Marathon said the government and race organisers regretted the inconvenience the temporary closure of roads might cause to residents.
Commissioner of Sports, Professor Kabir Mato, told The Guardian that about 30 roads within the state capital would be fully or partially closed between 6.00 a.m. and 3.00 p.m. on Saturday.
He explained that the security agencies expect the cooperation and voluntary compliance of residents.
Mato added that sponsors of Kaduna Marathon and the elite athletes participating in the event would be unveiled at the final pre-event press briefing tomorrow, just as he disclosed that the Kaduna Marathon would be broadcast live in accordance with international standards.
On his part, Bukola Olopade, Managing Director of Nilayo Sports Management Limited and consultant to the Kaduna Marathon, told The Guardian yesterday that everything needed to host a befitting marathon in Kaduna on Saturday has been put in place.
Olopade hinted that among the foreign athletes already in Nigeria for the race are World Athletics gold-label marathoners from Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda.
“The presence of a strong field of elite runners in Kaduna on Saturday will serve as big inspiration for the local athletes. I am sure the Kaduna Marathon will become a label race soon,” Olopade stated.
Also speaking yesterday, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Muyiwa Adekeye, confirmed that the government and people of Kaduna State were looking forward to the event on Saturday.
“We are ready for the Kaduna Marathon, and everybody is looking forward to the event. Kaduna is the hub of sports in northern Nigeria, and we are going to give this marathon the attention it deserves.