Organisers of the third Okpekpe 10km road race scheduled for next month in Okpekpe have announced a quantum increase in the prize money for the first nine Edo-state born finishers in the men's and women's races.
The respective male and female winners will go home with N500,000 each, an increase of N400,000 while the first and second runners-up will get N300,000 and N250,000 respectively.
The ninth-placed runner will get N50,000 while the eighth, seventh, sixth, fifth and fourth placed finishers will go home with N75,000, N100,000, N150,000 and N200,000 respectively.
Yusuf Ali, a member of the organising committee and former Africa, Commonwealth and World Universities Games long jump champion explained that the committee arrived at the decision to increase the prize money for the locals because of the need to encourage them and make them more competitive.
"The committee feels there is the need to make Edo-state indigenes up their game and make them more competitive," he said.
"The new prize money structure will make them train more and, hopefully, we will get them to compete for the main prize of $25,000."
Ali also expressed happiness that the male winner in that category in the past two editions, Lawrence Osheku has promised to improve on his performance.
"You can see that the guy who emerged the best Edo-state indigene in the last two editions, Lawrence (Osheku) is already talking about improving from a 34 minutes runner to 31 and this will be a significant improvement.
"I am sure if he is able to achieve this, he would be contesting for the top prize for Nigerian runners."
"We believe by next year he will be among the contestants for the $25,000 top prize," said Ali who heaped plaudits on race owner, Mike Itemuagbor for approving the new prize money structure for Edo state indigenes.
"He (Itemuagbor) is a blessing to the state and athletics in particular and Nigeria in general. If we have more people like him organising world class sporting events in Nigeria, the country would rank among the best in the world in any sport.
"He has been the driving force behind the monumental success the race has achieved in the last two years culminating in the award of a bronze label status for the race, the first of such in West Africa," remarked Ali.
The Okpekpe 10km road race is organised by Pamodzi Sports Marketing, a leader in sports marketing, sponsorship, hospitality and rights acquisition business in Nigeria in conjunction with the Athletic Federation of Nigeria (AFN) and Edo state government.
The race is run over hills and sandy path and it starts in Apama road and ends in Okpekpe, a town in Etsako East Local Government Area, located about 25 km North East of Auchi in Edo State, South-South Nigeria.