IAAF and AIMS Grade A measurer, Norrie Williamson, has said Lagos, Africa’s largest economy, has the potential to be Africa’s marathon and road races hub because of her strong economy, people’s passion for sports and population.
Williamson, who measured the course of many of the world’s biggest marathons, including the marathon course of the Olympic Games in Atlanta, Athens, Sydney and Beijing, said,
“Lagos has the advantage of numbers; 25 million people in one city. If you say 10 percent of those people are interested in health and exercise, that is 2.5 million. If you take 10 percent of that as being interested in serious running, club running etc then you have got the numbers to make it happen.
“Let’s put it into perspective. In the New York Marathon, only 50 percent of the runners get under five hours. Typically in Africa, virtually every marathon runner aims for less than five hours. Out of that, you would have 10 percent, now you are talking two to three thousand runners who are capable of sub-3 hours’’.
Williamson, who has been measuring course since 1985 said for Lagos to fulfill it potentials,
“There needs to be a structure, there needs to be basic information and then there needs to be the channeling of those with talent to go on. The basic marathon training is this, the faster you are over the short distance, the faster you are over the long distance. For instance, Haile Gabriselassie held the world record at every distance from the 1500m up to the marathon; why because he was faster over the short distance. “
Comparing Lagos marathon route to that of Dubai, Williamson said “Dubai is a harder course than Lagos potentially and the reason is that Dubai is totally flat. Therefore, you are using the same muscles in exactly the same way for 42km. Lagos course has a couple of inclines; getting on and off the bridge for example. Once people get used to this course potentially, it is a faster course. They have run a 2:04 in Dubai and the next question to ask is what the weather was like. The day they ran the 2:04 on Dubai, the weather was like 16 degrees in the morning and if the weather is good a 2:08 or even 2:06 should be possible in Lagos”.