As the 8th Access Bank Lagos City Marathon holds on Saturday, February 4, the aspiration of the organisers, Nilayo Sports Management, is to attain the prestigious Platinum Label status within the shortest possible time.
The Access Bank Lagos City Marathon made the historic Gold-Label status last year, the first full marathon in Africa to attain such height, and the 25th in the world.
Within a short period of its operation, from December 11, 2015, the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon has made tremendous gains, winning the Athletics Bronze Label in 2017 to become the third marathon to achieve such feat in the world. It achieved it just after the second edition.
In 2019, the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon won the Silver Label to become the first to achieve such in the world after four editions. It added another feather in 2021, winning the Athletics Elite Running Label, and last year, it attained the Gold-label status.
In 2018, athletics governing body (then IAAF), introduced the Platinum Label for the 2020 season.
For the 2021 season, the Platinum Label was renamed Elite Platinum Label, the Gold Label was renamed Elite Label, and the Silver and Bronze Labels were merged into Label Races.
The Labels are assessed and awarded each year. Race organisers have to apply to the Athletics for recognition, and show that their race can meet a number of criteria. The criteria vary for the different levels; Gold Labels have the strictest requirements, followed by Silver, then Bronze. All three categories require what the Athletics describes as an international elite field, that requires at least five nations (four for Bronze) to be represented by runners with times faster than the Athletics’ guidelines.
“The Lagos City Marathon’s quest to attain the Platinum Label status, which is uppermost in the desires of the organisers, Nilayo Sports Management Ltd, will be boosted when two of the male runners finish the full marathon race in less than 2 hours 10 minutes, and three female athletes finish under 2 hours 12 minutes,” General Manager of the race, Yusuf Alli, stated during the week.
Alli, a former African record holder in the Long Jump, noted that, for the 8th edition of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon Gold-Label race, the runners would have their running numbers in front and their names at the back of their competition jerseys.
“And to avoid any form of controversy, as clearly stipulated by Athletics, there will be the photo finish device at the finish line of the race at the Eko Atlantic City, Victoria Island,” Alli added.
Among the marathon races with Platinum Label status in the world are the Marathon Valencia in Spain, Shanghai International Marathon in China, Virgin Money London Marathon, Nagoya Women’s Marathon in Japan and the Tokyo Marathon.
To the Chief Executive Officer of Nilayo Sports Management Ltd, Bukola Olopade, every step towards attaining the Platinum label status have been taken ahead the 8th edition of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon on February 4.
According to him, 76 first-class foreign runners from across the world will compete in this year’s Access Bank Lagos City Marathon, the first-ever Gold-Label in Nigeria. It will start at the National Stadium, Lagos.
Olopade revealed that the Elite entries would have been more, saying: “We had to regulate it to a barest size over a week ago towards effective and efficient management of the race. A majority of the invited foreign runners are from Europe, East Africa, North Africa, West Africa, Asia, and South America.
“Apart from the 76 foreign runners we officially invited, the rest will compete to chase the Gold-Label status in their quest to garner requisite international points to attain first-class Elite status as they grow professionally. We are ready for it,” he stated.
The organisers will be using the race to apply for a Gold-Label race status for 10km.
Olopade also revealed that, because of the darkness occasioned at the start point of the race at the 7th edition at the National Stadium, Lagos, last year, which is the same venue for this year’s edition, the start time has been moved forward by 30 minutes.
“This means, the race would be flagged off at 6.30am. By this time, the day would have brightened up a little enough to allow some visibility for the start-line formalities.
He added: “From the 9th edition of the Gold-Label Access Bank Lagos City Marathon, next year, we will introduce payment entry charges, as runners will pay registration fees to compete in the Lagos City Marathon. The amount to be paid will be decided by the organisers at the conclusion of this year’s edition on 4th February.”
Athletics Label Road Races are races that the Athletics (until 2019: IAAF) designates as one of the ‘leading road races around the world.’
The classification was first introduced for the 2008 running season, upon the suggestion of the IAAF Road Running Commission. The races are split into three categories: marathons, half marathons and other. Within the ‘other’ category are traditional road race distances, over which Athletics world records can be set, along with some ‘Classical races,’ which span unusual distances.