Its five weeks to the much anticipated sixth edition of the Obudu International Mountain Race and the second African mountain running championships for both men and women, more top athletes around the world have confirmed their readiness to be at the big athletics event.
The growing list of athletes already confirmed for the event includes reigning world champion, Andrea Mayr of Austria.
Mayr, who has remained unbeaten in the World Mountain Running Association grand prix series and won the world title last month, will be staging a comeback to reclaim the title she was unable to defend last year due to a bicycle accident few weeks before the event.
Others who have also stated their readiness to stake a claim for the $50,000 (N7,500,000) top prize for men and women race winners respectively include Turkeyâs Ahmet Arslan, the reigning European mountain running champion , the Kenyan trio of Emily Chepkemoi Samoei ,Pamela Chepkemoi Pertom and Irene Cherop Loritareng who have all been impressive in the 2010 season. Also in for the International Mountain race is womenâs former champion, Rehima Kedir of Ethiopia.
Patrick Ugbe, the media chief for the race told the journalists over the weekend that this yearâs race has witnessed an unprecedented number of athletes who want to come down to Nigeria to participate.
âThis is very pleasing to us because of the many negative reports in the international media about how unsafe Nigeria is. We have been able to consistently let the whole world know how safe Nigeria is with the perfect organisation of the race,â Ugbe said.
âThis will be the sixth edition of the race and we have not received any negative report about it. Instead we have had more Europeans, Asians and South Americans making enquiries about the race than ever. Even the president of the world mountain running association, Bruno Gozzelino has revealed that the Obudu Ranch Resort, venue for the annual race can conveniently host the world championships.â
Ugbe said the executive Governor of Cross River, Liyel Imoke, has been the driving force behind the good image the race is giving Nigeria as a country and Cross River as a state.
The Obudu Mountain Resort is one of the finest tourist destinations in the world. Deep in the tropical rain forest of Cross River.
The resort which is located on the Obudu Plateau at an altitude of 1,576 metres above Sea level is equipped with modern facilities like an International Hotel, and airstrip, a Golf Course, nature reserve, Waterpark and is equipped with a Cable Car and a Canopy Walkway.