The distance between Knvlope, in Bwari Area Council of FCT and The Pavilion, the ongoing Abuja International Marathon venue is over an hour and the Expo starts at 9 am daily.
But like men on a mission, the duo Peter John and Sunday Emmanuel Dutse accompanied by Danladi Mailamba their coach, manager and teacher had arrived at the Expo ground before dawn.
John 11 years old and Dutse 12 years both students of Knvlope Primary School, in Bwari Area Council of FCT mission is not just to participate in the 5 km race of the Abuja International Marathon, the first international marathon in FCT, but to win the prize money of N500,000.
According to their coach Mailamba a former sprinter and quarter-miler whose athletics career was aborted after secondary because there was no marriage between sports and education at National Teachers Training Institute where he did his NCE (National Certificate in Education) which qualified him to be a teacher running the 5km is not a big deal for John and Dutse.
“Twice a week we do more than 10 km as part of our 6 days training weekly. We normally run twice weekly from Knvlope to Shere a distance that is more than 10km so running and winning the 5km is achievable on April 29th.”
Mailamba is of the opinion that talents died in Nigeria because of a lack of development programs, “we are talented in all sports but there are no development programs, we need to start proper elite athlete development programs. We are grateful to FCT and Unicentral for the Abuja International Marathon, but we need more not just in Abuja but in all the nooks and crannies of FCT, we have what it takes to excel like East Africans but we need to start early like age 6 or 7”.
On what his wards will do with the prize money if they eventually win, “They will invest the money in their education and sports career and also support their families”.
The Abuja International Marathon is slated for April 29th, 2023, in three categories the 5km Student Race, the 10 km Family Run and the 42.195 Full Marathon.
According to the Race Director registration which is free is still ongoing at the Expo till April 28th.