Why over 5,000 runners were disqualified from 2024 Access Bank Lagos City Marathon --- Technical Director

Posted : 10 February 2024

Yusuf Alli, the Technical Director of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon, has elaborated on the reasons why over 5,000 intending runners were disqualified from participating in the race.


In an exclusive interview, Alli stated that the disqualified runners failed to meet the deadline set by the organizers for picking up their bibs for the race.


Alli emphasized that the last-minute rush by intending runners after the deadline for kit collection had expired would impact the accurate recording of runners.


He advised those registered for the marathon to ensure they are timely with their online registration and kit collection because the race must adhere to the laid-down standards of World Road Race.


"There were fewer runners in this year's edition because many runners came late for the collection of their kits, and we had to turn down about 5,000 who came on Thursday.


"People waited until the last minute, and if we keep giving out kits until the last minutes, we won't have accurate numbers of runners, which is our start sheet.


"People should abide by the deadline given. It's not that we don't want them, but we want to adhere to the rules of the game, which is good for us.


"I believe the numbers will increase because there was a time we had over 120,000 runners in the marathon, but when COVID-19 came, it disrupted the figures, but we are picking up gradually," he said.


Alli also pointed out that the 42 km Gold Label race has witnessed significant improvement since it started nine years ago.


"When we started the marathon, the time difference between the elite runners and Nigerians was 24 minutes, but today it's just 10 minutes, which means we are picking up.


"If the World record in 1990 was 2:07 and the Nigerian record stood at 2:15 years after. For some years, we went to sleep and didn't do anything, which affected us.


"If we had been busy, we would have improved more, but with what I have seen today, in the next two years, Nigeria will be among the world's top athletes," he said.


Alli, a gold medalist at the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland, New Zealand, said that the marathon would look at a way of developing more Nigerian long-distance runners.


"By next year, we will concentrate on Nigerian runners. There is more focus on elite runners this year because it's a year for the Olympics, while many runners want to qualify.


"By next year, we will narrow the elite runners to fewer numbers, get them paid well; the money paid for 88 elite runners will be pruned down to 20 elites. Then we will have room to increase bonuses.


"The bonuses will be increased from 10,000 dollars to 20,000 dollars, which is a great incentive.


"For this year, the weather is not friendly, so we are looking at a way of altering the date for the marathon," he said.


Alli, who is the Chairman of the Nigerian Road Race, also spoke about the vision of his committee to improve road races in Nigeria.


"What we will do to improve the quality of the road race is to streamline the numbers to have a clear-cut road race.


"From 2016 till now, we now have about 70 and more races in Nigeria, but half of the road races are not measured, which gives room for discrepancies.


"We will henceforth certify the road races and measure them with accurate marathon devices to check malpractices. We also intend to have an exchange program with the Kenyans to train Nigerian runners.


"It is cheaper to bring them to Nigeria than taking the athletes to Kenya. We will exchange notes to see where we can fit in with their program," he said.

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