East African athletes from Kenya and Ethiopia once again dominated the 2023 Access Bank (www.AccessBankPLC.com) Lagos City Marathon. Edwin Kibet Koech of Kenya won the $50,000 first-place prize for the men’s category, and Guta Alemenesh Herpha of Ethiopia took home the $50,000 first-place prize for the women’s category, bringing the event to a thrilling conclusion at the posh Eko Atlantic City in Lagos.
Koech of Kenya won the 42km race, beating out more than 200 other marathon runners to take first place in the men’s division. The 39-year-old breast the tape ahead of Bernard Sang of Kenya and Dekeba Shefa of Ethiopia, who came in second and third, respectively. Bernard and Dekeba went home with $40,000 and $30,000 out of the $370,000 in prize money provided by Access Bank and its parent company, Access Corporation.
In the women’s division, Guta Alemenesh Herpha of Ethiopia finished the race in 2 hours, 40 minutes, and 42 seconds, winning for the second time in five years after her victory in 2018. Urisa Kebene Chala of Ethiopia came in second with 2 hours, 40 minutes, and 44 seconds, and Naomi Maiyo of Kenya repeated her victory from 2018.
One of the largest sports and lifestyle events in Africa, with exponential growth in participation and rewards, the event drew elite athletes from Africa and around the world as well as fitness and lifestyle aficionados to Lagos, Africa’s commercial and cultural capital.
The Access Bank Lagos City Marathon has been running for just eight years, yet it has already earned the Gold title from World Athletics, the organisation that oversees international athletics.
Ajoritsedere Awosika, Chairman of Access Bank PLC, commented on the marathon, saying, “As you know, sport unites Africa. We are succeeding in our corporate social responsibility goal of raising Africans’ awareness of their wellbeing and improving their quality of life thanks to the substantial number of participants from all over the continent.”
“At Access Bank, we collaborate with the government to support sports & cultural development in Africa,” she noted.
The eight-year-old marathon, sponsored by Access Bank, one of the business verticals of Access Corporation, aims to promote tourism, healthy living, and the exposure of Nigerians and other Africans to opportunities on a global scale in the fields of sports, culture, tourism, and other industries.
Over 75 elite international athletes competed for the $370,000 total prize money at the 2023 Marathon which drew over 50,000 participants. It has since evolved into a high-octane lifestyle and cultural occasion that offers Africans limitless opportunities to push the boundaries of leadership, excellence, and innovation.
Top Nigerian musicians Niniola and Zlatan Ibile, among others, gave performances that increased participation among athletes and lifestyle enthusiasts around the nation and boosted the tourism industry with thousands of visitors to the upscale Eko Atlantic City, the last point for the marathon.
Commenting, Nigeria’s Minister of Sports, Sunday Dare, said, “You cannot have the talent to represent your nation in international contests without grassroots sports development. Our efforts to promote sports development in Nigeria will continue to gain pace with the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon in 2023. The widespread engagement of sports fans in the nation is proof that we have athletes that can compete on a worldwide level.”
Babajide Sanwolu, the governor of Lagos State, who was represented at the event by his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat, claimed that the Marathon had drawn attention throughout the world.
“With the help of Access Bank, we have maintained the Lagos City Marathon for the past 8 years, and this has helped position the event as a part of the global athletic calendar, luring more sports and lifestyle tourists into the nation to experience the cosmopolitan nature of Lagos and contributing to the economy of the state. The Marathon is now a gold label event driving more participation globally”.
Victor Etuokwu, Deputy MD, Retail North, Access Bank, also spoke at the event. He said the goal of the marathon is to encourage people from all walks in the African society to lead healthy lifestyles and to promote sports tourism in Africa by providing participants from all over the continent who travel to Nigeria for the event with memorable experience.
“We have developed the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon to a gold label, making it the fastest-growing race in the world. Within the next two years, we want the marathon to reach platinum status, and we will keep innovating to make sure we succeed. As part of our mission to connect Africans, we anticipate to see participation from more African countries in the next edition, particularly from countries like Botswana, Mozambique, Senegal, Uganda, and others which are part of countries under our Pan-African growth strategy,” Etuokwu said.
According to him, Access Bank has a strategy of going beyond banking to support Africans in their quest to create viable businesses and fulfilling careers that have the potential to alter the overall economy.
Access Bank is genuinely adding value for its clients and other stakeholders by raising its prize money and assisting in the creation of greater chances for Africans to compete on the international stage. It should be noted that winners of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon winners this year have qualified for the marathon competition in the Paris Olympics 2024.
The Access Bank Lagos City Marathon is an initiative of Access Bank Plc. Access Corporation is the parent company of one of Africa’s financial services giants, Access Bank. The organisation, whose 20-year journey in transforming the African financial services sector, aims to connect Africa and the world meaningfully through sports and tourism. This the institution has done since the inception of the Access Lagos City Marathon in 2015.