Obudu Ranch International Mountain Race
Top athletes attracted by $227,000 prize purse.
The second edition of the Obudu Ranch international mountain race will take place on Saturday 25th November when Jonathan Wyatt’s theory that ‘the African runners long flowing style is not naturally suited to running up and down hills as they are on flat ground’ (IAAF top story 16th November) will be put to the test. The worlds top mountain runners will clash with several fast Africans for the valuable winners prize of $50,000 a runners up prize of $20,000 and third place taking $10,000. Prize values than drop in $1000 intervals down to 8th place (same prizes for women)
The race is the brainchild of the governor of Cross River State (Nigeria), His Excellency Donald Duke who is underwriting the cost of the event. The Obudu Ranch Resort is one of his flagship projects to attract tourists to this remote yet beautiful region of Nigeria close to the border with Cameroon. The Obudu ranch sits on a mountain plateau at an altitude of 1600m. where extensive new tourist accommodation has been built. Although there is a road from the base to the plateau, the route of the mountain race, you can travel from bottom to top by cable car – a state of the art Austrian construction completed last year, providing a spectacular and rather easier way to ascend the mountain than running up!
A new swimming complex has been installed which, situated as it is in rural Nigeria, has to be seen to be believed.
Wyatt will renew his rivalry with the new world mountain running champion, Rolando Ortiz (COL), and four times champion Marco de Gasperi (ITA). However, of great interest will be how the Africans from Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Eritrea, Cameroon, Rwanda, and S.Africa fare against the recognised mountain runners. Tesfayohonnes Mesfin (ERI) already has experience of mountain running when he was second to Wyatt in the 2004 World Trophy. His 9th position in this years world cross-country championship in Japan confirms that he is in fine condition to make a serious challenge. Also on the stating line is Solomon B. Naibei (KEN) who recently won the Amsterdam marathon in 2.08.52, and currently one of the worlds leading marathon runners. Francis Kibiwot (KEN), 11th in the IAAF 2006 half marathon world ranking list will be another serious contender.
The African women will face experienced mountain runners from Europe. Anna Pichrtova (CZE) is the current European champion, and Andrea Mayr AUT) the current world champion, both being accompanied by top mountain runners from Hungary, Poland, Norway, New Zealand, and USA.
The race is an IAAF permit event, a WMRA associate member event, and is organised by the LOC of Cross River State, assisted by the Athletic federation of Nigeria. Doping control will be carried out and prizes withheld pending the results.