Why 5,000 Runners Were Disqualified From Lagos City Marathon

Yusuf Alli, Technical Director of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon, says over 5,000 runners who failed to collect their kits on time were disqualified.

Alli told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Lagos that the last-minute rush by runners after the kit collection deadline compromised accurate runner records.

He stressed the importance of timely online registration and kit collection for adhering to World Road Race standards.

“There were fewer runners this year because many missed the kit collection deadline. We had to turn away about 5,000 who came on Thursday,” Alli said.

“If we allow late kit collection, we won’t have accurate runner numbers, which are crucial for our start sheet. People should respect deadlines. It’s not that we don’t want them, but we must follow the rules for the benefit of all.”

“The numbers will increase. We once had over 120,000 runners, but COVID-19 impacted participation. We’re gradually recovering,” he added.

Alli also noted significant improvement in the 42 km Gold Label race since its inception nine years ago.

“When we started, the gap between elite and Nigerian runners was 24 minutes. Today, it’s just 10 minutes. We’re making progress.”

“The world record in 1990 was 2:07, and the Nigerian record was 2:15 years later. We stagnated for some time, which affected us. With continued effort, Nigeria will have world-class athletes within two years,” he said.

Alli, a 1990 Commonwealth Games gold medalist, said the marathon would focus on developing Nigerian long-distance runners.

“Next year, we’ll focus on Nigerians. This year’s focus was on elites due to the Olympics. Many runners wanted to qualify.”

“Next year, we’ll reduce the elite numbers, compensate them better, and increase bonuses from $10,000 to $20,000. This year’s weather wasn’t ideal, so we’re considering changing the marathon date,” he said.

Alli, also the Chairman of Nigerian Road Race, discussed his committee’s vision to improve road races in Nigeria.

“We’ll streamline the number of races to ensure clarity and quality. Since 2016, Nigeria has seen over 70 races, but half are unmeasured, leading to discrepancies.”

“We’ll certify and accurately measure races to prevent malpractice. We also plan an exchange program with Kenya to train Nigerian runners. Bringing them here is cheaper than sending our athletes to Kenya. We’ll collaborate to leverage their program,” he concluded.


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