Enugu — No fewer than 1500 athletes will participate in the first Enugu Coal City International half Marathon scheduled for November 24, the organisers have said.
According to the organisers, the athletes expected from Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria, among others, have already registered for the 21-kilometres race, which offers a N1.2 million cash prize among other prizes.
Already, officials of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), led by its Technical Director, Sunday Adeleye, has inspected and approved the routes designated for the race, saying it would guarantee a good competition.
Commissioner for Youths and Sports in the state, Joseph Udedi, who briefed Journalists yesterday on the event, said the race would commence at the Michael Okpara Square to the Front of the State Assembly, Bissala Road, New Haven Junction, Bush Bar junction, Goshen Roundabout, Toscana Junction, WAEC, Monkey Junction, ESBS, NTA/Library, College Road, Kenyatta, Ziks Avenue, Ogui Road and terminate at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium.
He added that the state governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi would participate fully in the race, adding that it would involve youths ranging from 13 to 32 years, while those from 40 years and above will do the walk.
"It is part of the effort to showcase the state, to showcase our rich cultural heritage and promote economic activities in the state. We are using this exercise to also promote sports and encourage of athletes to go into competitive sports so as to win laurels," he said.
The commissioner revealed the government's intention of making Enugu the centre of athletics in Nigeria, adding that it desired to make the marathon an annual event.
He called on the residents of the state to come out and cheer the athletes, assuring that government has put machineries for their security and those participating in the race.
Adeleye, who expressed delight with the routes designated for the race, however, called on the government to encourage indigenous athletes to participate in the race.