Kaduna Marathon: Nilayo Sports celebrate move to national stage

After organising five editions of the 42km Access Bank/Lagos City Marathon, which currently ranks among the best in the world, as well as two major road races in Abeokuta and Remo in Ogun State, Nilayo Sports Management Limited is spreading its tentacles to Kaduna, a city described as ‘hub’ of all sporting activities in northern Nigeria.

Though, the Kaduna half marathon is slated for November 21, the organisers feel excited over the choice of Nilayo Sports as the main consultant for the race.

“For us, it’s a great achievement because having the opportunity to organise the Kaduna half marathon is a sign of growth in the business and in the industry,” the Chief Operating Officer of Nilayo Sports, Seyi Johnson told The Guardian shortly after the unveiling ceremony of plans for the race by Governor Nasir el Rufai at the Government House, Kaduna.

Nilayo Sports battled with other five companies in the bidding process to become the main consultant for the Kaduna half marathon.

Johnson assured that the Kaduna marathon would be given the seriousness it deserves.

“Nilayo Sports will employ all logistics needed to make the maiden Kaduna marathon a huge success. The Kaduna state government reached out to us after conducting their research on companies that is capable to help them organise the marathon race. We have to justify the confidence, which the government and people of Kaduna State have reposed on us by doing a great job. I am glad that Nilayo Sports is now the only sports marketing company that is know nationally,” he stated.
Johnson hinted that Nilayo Sports had put all necessary machineries in place to surmount the challenges that may arise in organising the Kaduna half marathon.

He said: “Staging marathon races is what we have been doing in Nigeria in the last six years. The Kaduna half marathon won’t be an exception. For us, its like plug and play. Road races bring good health, and it tends to create an atmosphere and lifestyle that changes the way we think about our food, our body and our metabolism. The Kaduna marathon will go smoothly because we have factored the peculiarities of the host city into our plans.”

“Come November 21, I can see the future of a big marathon that will be of world class like the Boston Marathon and its likes. Kaduna and the North has not witnessed a marathon of this magnitude in the last 60 years. We are working on bringing everybody together.

“Just like his Excellency, Governor el-Rufai is not tribal or religious differences, the young and old, the villagers, men and women together irrespective of their religion will come together during the marathon. For Nilayo Sports we always talk about sustainability.”

The maiden Kaduna half marathon will see total of 20 elite athletes, both male and female as participants. “The elite athletes will come from all over the world, but a majority of them will come from east African,” Johnson said.

The winner of the elite race will take home a cash prize of $10,000, while the top 10 winners will all get cash prizes with the 10th placed taking $1,000.

The local athletes are not left out, as the winners, from first to 10th, will get cash prizes ranging from N250,000 to N3 million.

While unveiling the state’s plans for the Kaduna half marathon, Governor El Rufai had showered praises on Nilayo Sports Management saying that the company has demonstrated its competence as a great organisers as far as marathon races are concerned in the country.

“It is not surprising to me that Nilayo sports defeated others in the race to become the main consultant to the Kaduna marathon,” the Governor said, adding: “We will give them all the support they need to make the marathon a great event.”

Already, Governor El Rufai has registered to compete in the race. “As 80 years old participate regularly in international marathons, Kaduna should not be different. This Kaduna half marathon would, among other things, reposition our state as the number one sports state in the north.”

The Governor assured that they would adhere strictly to COVID-19 protocols during the race saying; “I am a graduate of Coronavirus, after surviving the virus. I will participate in the race, but I will not run more than five kilometres.”

He urged all indigenes of Kaduna State to register for the event. “We are doing our best to restore Kaduna back to its glory years. The Kaduna marathon is not my initiative, but that of our team of technocrats. You need not to compliment the governor for it.”

The governor added that the vision of Kaduna marathon is to establish a sustainable, diversified, community-focused running event, encourage athletes, families and persons at all levels to lead healthy and competitive lifestyles through running.”

According to el Rufai, the Kaduna Marathon 2020 will cost between N250 million and N300 million with private sponsorships and donations, with no recourse to public funds.

He added: “We want to double our prize money every year. I assure everyone that this marathon will be sustained. At least, I assure you all until 2023 when I will leave office, and I am sure the subsequent government won’t throw away the unique marathon.

“We want to give our youths a sustainable life, expect more sports to come to Kaduna. We are going to draw up a 10 to 15 year blueprint to develop sports in the state. Kaduna has contributed to the success of Nigerian sports more than any state in the country,” Governor El Rufai stated.

The chairman of the organising committee, Mr. Jimi Lawal says Kaduna state government is sure of attracting enough sponsors to cover the costs of the marathan. “If we can attract the sponsors, it shows that the marathon is sustainable.”

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