Reporting the Kaduna Marathon Race- By Ibraheem Musa 

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Ordinarily, the story seemed simple and straightforward but somehow, it proved a hard nut to crack for even veterans. The news, as reporters know, is in the ‘’lead’’ and a good beginning should be concise, broad in scope and inviting to the reader. However, the devil is in crafting a good opening  and sometimes,  pulling it off can be tricky. On September 19, 2020, Malam Nasir El Rufai, the Kaduna state governor, had addressed a press conference, heralding the Kaduna Marathon race in November. 
The event, according to him, will be a 21 kilometer race, featuring elite athletes, local stars and amateur runners. In all, about 10,000 athletes will participate and El Rufai will be one of them! Entirely, the event will be private-sector driven, according to him, with   corporate  sponsors   bankrolling the race.  Overall, the marathon  will gulp N300 million, including  security, prize money and sundry logistics. 
 Significantly, encapsulating  the event’s novelty, being the first in Kaduna, the North West and Northern Nigeria; the sheer size of  participants and the cost involved, as well as adding El Rufai in the lead, is a tough act to follow.

Similarly, a marathon is not a stroll in the park either;  neither is it a quick dash, nor a regular  weekend jog. Specifically, it tasks the stamina, endurance and perseverance and only the determined breast the tape. However,  the  Kaduna Marathon promises to be a melange of fun, inclusiveness and running for laurels. The race, El Rufai has promised,   will be  13 miles less strenuous than a full marathon and registered runners can drop off at any point. Besides, running segments of 5km and 10km, he also  revealed,  will be created  within the 21km race. So, everyone can run or even saunter at his or her pace and level of endurance. In fact, there will be something for everyone; from those seeking the glory of winning, to young persons  wanting    to hone their talents, to citizens who merely want to exercise,  meet people, or simply cheer up the runners.

Likewise, the Commissioner for Sports Development, Professor Kabiru Mato, amplified the governor’s press conference in a separate  interview on October 5. The race, according to him,  will benefit  Kaduna state in several  ways. In fact, there are   economic,  social and  political dimensions to the marathon race. Kaduna, in recent times, has been in the news for the wrong reasons as conflict entrepreneurs, in cahoots with the media, paint a society in perpetual crises. Kidnappings, rural banditry and cattle rustling as well as sundry crimes, are often given  ethno-religious twists to feed a certain political narrative. Consequently,   to most  outsiders, Kaduna people live in    a Hobbesian state, where life is nasty, brutish and short. 
However, the marathon will give a more correct picture, the commissioner  argued,  as athletes from all over the world will converge at  Kaduna on November 21. Thereafter, the race will be a leveller as people from diverse backgrounds will bond and forge life-long friendships, breaking the wall of distrust as a result.

Similarly, the race will boost commerce  and businesses as hoteliers,  petty traders and food vendors as well as all sorts of retailers will make money. Likewise, blue-chip companies will advertise  goods and services, according to Mato, to   attract high net worth customers and clientele.  Generally, the event will showcase the new  Kaduna state, especially its   infrastructural development. 

Elsewhere, experts list the benefits of the race on the  body, human mind and soul. First, running   improves  overall health, strengthens  the heart and maintains a healthy blood pressure and cholesterol  level. Exercise, according to research, lowers heart disease and stroke by 35%. In addition, it lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes, according to medical experts, by 50%, lowers the risk of colon cancer by 50% and breast cancer by 29%.   Indeed, exercise relieves common aches and pains. Likewise, running improves the immune system and  increases muscle strength. Similarly, long races hones mental resilience, reduces stress as well as  mood and anxiety disorders. Besides, it increases self esteem and  confidence, according to psychologists.

Significantly, elite athletes from six countries, within and outside Africa,  have  registered for the coming Kaduna Mini Marathon race.  Already, three Kenyan top rate athletes, Sheila Jerotich, John Muriuri Mburu and Rotich Mitei John, have  confirmed their participation. Specifically, Jerotich is a world athletics gold-label marathoner and Mburu won first place in the half marathon men’s open category at Kaula Lumpur, the Malaysian capital in 2018. In all, 10 world-class  runners from Azerbaijan, Ethopia, Uganda, Zimbabbwe  and Ghana will run the 21 kilometres stretch in Kaduna.
 Indeed, Azerbaijan’s Desta Fitsun Weldu, the Ethiopian  trio of  Gebremedhin Silasssie Gebremedhin, Lensa Daba Kabtimer and Mawcha Adane Nega will be live in Kaduna. Similarly,    William Amponsah and Ismael Arthur, both Ghanaians, will take part in the race, so will  Uganda’s  Immaculate Chemmutai and Zimbabwe’s  Fortunate Chidvizo.
 In addition,  Nancy Jesang, will compete for laurels at the maiden edition of Kaduna Marathon race, just like her Kenyan  compatriots,  Gladys Jepkemoi Chemweno, Careen Cheptoeck and Shila Jepkosgei Chesang.

Interestingly, these elite runners,  national and local athletes as well as ordinary folks will charge through  the main artery of Kaduna city, starting from Command Junction,  and will end  up at Murtala Square, the finishing line of the event. In the end, all participants will get  race vests and finishers will receive medals and certificates. 

However, in the international category, the athletes that came  first will get $10,000, while  second and third positions will collect $7,000 and $5,000 respectively, for both men and women runners. Similarly, those who came fourth, fifth and sixth positions will get $3,500, $3,000 and $2,500 respectively.  Likewise, the seventh position will receive $2,000 while the athlete that came eighth will go home with $1,700. The ninth and tenth positions will get $1,500 and $1,000 respectively. Indeed, both men and women winners will get equal  prize money for the same title. Similarly, for home-based runners, the first position will cart away N3 million and the second will get N2 million while the third placed athlete will receive N1.5 million. The fourth, fifth and sixth runners will get N1 million, N750,000 and N500,000 respectively. Also, the seventh position will get N400,000 while the athlete that came eighth will get N350,000 and those   that came ninth and tenth will collect N300,000 and N250,000 respectively.

In the end, there will be several  stories, feature articles and analyses from  the Kaduna Marathon and not just  a single news item. Hopefully, crafting a good  lead for the various news items may not be as challenging as cramping various elements into the intro of a single story–as  it did for many,  with  the  governor’s  press conference.

Musa is Governor Nasir El Rufai’s Special Assistant on Media and Publicity

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