Okpekpe Road Race: Pam, Shehu emerge top Nigerian finishers

Adamu Shehu, with a time of 32.15 seconds, and Deborah Pam, with 38.18 seconds, were the first Nigerians to cross the finishing line in the fourth edition of the Okpekpe 10 kilometres held Saturday in Edo State, South-South Nigeria.

While Adamu is claiming his first in Okpekpe, Pam who hails from Jos, showed that she was the Queen of Road Racing in Nigeria as her triumph meant she won two editions of the Okpekpe race which last year became the first IAAF Bronze labelled race in West African.

Meanwhile, Kenyans’ dominance continued on Saturday at the fourth edition of the Okpekpe International 10km Road Race as compatriots, Simon Cheprot and Wanjiku Njeru claimed the top prizes at the IAAF Bronze Label Road Race.

This is the third time in the four editions that Kenyans will be recording a double and for the duo of Cheprot and Njeru, it was another worthy addition to the Kenya collection.

Cheprot who was making a debut show in Okpekpe, posted a winning time of 29.48 to beat Tanzania’s Isamail Juma Gallat 30.12 and Timothy Toroitich to second and third place respectively.

Cheprot took control of the race after the leading pack went through the first 5km in 14:57.

Indeed, the 22-year-old, from the start of the race showed lot of composure as he stayed in the front cell all through and finally pulled away in the 8km; albeit with a hot chase from the trio of Gallat, Torotoich and Morris Muene Gachaga who had been tipped as one of the favourites but ended up not making the podium; finishing in 5th place.

Cheprot, after conquering the hills and sandy paths of the race route, said he was happy to win in his first try but was not particularly impressed with his winning time having posted must faster times in
other races.

“I’m really happy to have won the race, this is my first time in Nigeria and I am a winner,” said Cheprot. “Yes the weather was quite humid today and that contributed to the slow time, but in all it was not too bad.”

In the women’s race, there was more to cheer for Kenya as it was a one-two for the East Africans with Njeru posting a winning in a time of 33.30.

Before adding the triumph in Okpekpe, Nejru had two wins to her name in Spain this year, including in Madrid last month.

The time run by Njeru in Okpekpe however is a far cry from her personal best time of 32.10 seconds set in Manchester in 2014.

Second-placed Esther Chemtai was all joy with the big improvement she could muster, having finished in distant sixth position in the 2014 edition of the same Road Race.

As predicted, Ethiopia’s Buzunesh Gudeta denied Kenya a clean sweep in the women’s race as she came in third place in a time of 33.41.

The 18-year-old had narrowly missed out on a podium finish last year as she could only manage a 4th place finish.

Organisers are hopeful that with the star cast present in this year’s race, the Okpekpe race can be upgraded to a Silver Label in 2017.