Nigerians could not find their pace at the Okpekpe annual marathon race which saw other African athletes clinching the prize money of $57,000.

Two Kenyans, Simon Cheprot and Polline Wanjiku Njeru respectively  won the 5th edition of the 10 kilometre road race in the male and female categories with $15,000 prize money each. Both finished in a record time of 29min: 48sec and 33min: 53sec respectively at the race which held Saturday at Okpekpe in  Etsako West Local government area of Edo state

The silver medallists Ismail Juma Ballet of Tanzania who finished in a record time of 29min: 50sec and Esther Ndiema of Kenya in 33min: 55sec won prize money of $10,000 each while the third position was won by Timothy Toroitich of Uganda at 29min: 54sec; and Buzunesh Gutalshor of Ethiopia who finished in 33min: 58sec with a prize money of $7,000 each.

In the Nigerian category, Adamu Shehu, Stephen Joshua and Emmanuel Jiang, all from Plateau state came first, second and third in the male category went home with the prize money of N250,000; N100,000; and N80,000 respectively.

In the Nigeria female finishers, Deborah Pam, Platuau state, Olamide Oluwaseun Serah (Ogun state) and Elizabeth Nuhu, Nasarawa state WO the first, second and third position and were given the prize money of N250,000; N100,000; and N80,000 in that order.

Meanwhile in the indigenous category for Okpekpe, the host community, Raphael James and Mary Enodube won the male and female category race and were given the prize money of N150, 000 each.

The Edo state governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole speaking at the event urged  Local, State and Federal government to proffer an integration programme that would woo people from the Urban to the rural area as it is the best way to deal with poverty.

He said Edo has set an example for the other states and the federal government to follow as the Okpekpe road has shown the way to deal with rural poverty is to integrate the rural areas by building roads, schools and other rural amenities. He expressed mixed feeling as this is the last race he will be hosting but however assure the people that his successor will continue the legacy.

The governor who led other dignitaries: the Chairman of the Edo economic team, Mr Godwin Obaseki; the Managing Director of THISDAY group of newspapers, Mr Eniola Bello; Phillip Shaibu, member, representing Etsako federal constituency; the traditional ruler of Okpekpe, Oba Peter Osigbemhe noted that "Okpekpe marathon road race has come to stay".

He said, “The Nigeria government at all levels must recognise that what our rural people need is not our sympathy what they need is for us to join them to wallow in self-pity that rural people are poor, they can’t be reached no access road, no portable water, no schools, no health care. Even in a world that has adopted millennium development goals.

“We have shown that the way to deal with rural poverty is to integrate rural people with standard road network, that way we can deliver those basic needs of health care, school, of economic activities location and encouraging young people who are from this part of the world who are in the cities to return home.

“Rural development, government can keep rural people in rural areas by carrying development to their door step. In this community we have schools, we have built the road and I believe we will provide water that works not the one they put something on top and it is not flowing”

Also speaking, Chief Solomon Ogba, President, Athletic Federation of Nigeria (AFN) described the marathon as an event that has brought international recognition to the once rural community because of the calibre of people involved and the rating by IAAF.

Ogba who thanked Oshiomhole for utilising the environment to give birth to the event, added that for the singular sense of introducing some innovations, which had made the marathon comparable to other global events, every soon, the governor would receive a letter from the IAAF, upgrading the Okpekpe marathon to a Silver level grade marathon.