They started as equals, their muscles at rest. An hour later, some hearts were racing, others flagging, others lagging far behind.
The boys and girls knew who the masters of the race were at the 2017 Access Bank Lagos City Marathon. In the end, two sets of heroes emerged. The first were the athletes, like the first-place runner, Abraham Kiptum of the lean, bony vitality who breasted the tape and collapsed to the floor, about a hundred kilometres away from Nigeria’s alpha Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, who would hand him a cheque of $50,000.
The other, more authentic hero is Lagos. For the first time, Lagos is showing it is not only Nigeria’s city on the hill but the country’s indispensable place. What a way to market it but an event of international charm like the marathon. Last weekend made it the second, and a much better performance in terms of organisation and buzz than its first. Lagos with its talent, imagination, business opportunities, cultural diversity and vitality, is the potential London, Dubai and New York. All those cities had the sort of humble beginnings with Lagos.
The Marathon prompted CNN to ask: “is Lagos the next marathon haven?” With the marathon, Governor Ambode has sown the seed. His vision for tourism and hospitality can only make that dream blossom. Kiptum breasted the tape, but he ran roaring waves of the city. It is the first sure breath of Lagos in its marathon to join cities like Dubai and London as world’s elite cities.