A lot of things could be noted as I Mohammed journeyed through Afashio to Iyorra to Apana till we got to the start point of the 2018 okpekpe road race where hundreds of people were already gathered behind the gates waiting for the start of the race. The race which invited people from other countries is a 10 kilometer race and it consists of several hills, slopes and bends.
When we got to the start point of the race, dignitaries such as Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo state and Deputy Governor Philip Shaibu of Edo state had arrived. The people which included athletes who registered for the race were scattered all over the road and some were seen going into the woods catching the fun of the moment. Vehicles were battling to make their way to the front while the security were gesturing them to move back or clear the way for athletes to pass. Athletes that have come from other countries. I had never seen a drone fly live in front of me but I did today. A dark male official of Super Sport TV had released the drone into the air and was controlling it with his control pad which had an I-pad pegged to it. One would easily know figure out that the I-pad was the screen where the picture from the drone was been displayed. The Super sport official had stunned me and others. He had sent the drone high into the sky and far into the distance. He was standing at my position which was behind the start point but had sent the drone some 200 meters ahead to where the dignitaries and foreign athletes were chatting and getting ready for the race. Several packs of Okpekpe road race customized table water had been lined up at the sides of the road for speculators and anybody who wanted water to easily pick one.
The race had been scheduled to start by 8:00am and some minutes to 8, some athletes had not come to the start point but after some scolding, they ran to get ready for the race. At 7:59am, I was already at the start point because I wanted to start and finish the race with them.
At 8:00am, the gun was fired and the athletes started the race. I wanted to start running with them but a security man ordered me to wait till they had gone ahead before I could follow behind. I was disappointed but I had to obey him and stay behind. A very tall white man had drawn my attention and I was looking at him as he was arranging what looked like carpets on the road. He was handsome and had a hairy face and also hairy arms and legs. “na so white people dy big? I asked Mohammed who was standing beside me taking selfies. “Yes na” he replied getting ready to run. I couldn’t believe it because I reminded myself that I had seen a lot of white people who were not as big as this particular one. My curiosity was satisfied when I saw another white man of an average size and not as big as the other one I saw earlier. I concluded that it was the result of his gene and people have different genes. “You can go now” the security man said giving us approval to run the race and before I knew what was going on, my legs were already in motion, running with so much strength and over taking people. I reminded myself that this was the starting strength for every athlete. I saw some off my friends in the race too. One of them was frank who I had met at my former house at ekhei girls’ school road, Auchi. He had been stunned at my speed I the beginning and had taken my pace, running with the through the first and second kilometer of the race but had ran ahead of me after I stopped to catch my breath during the third kilometer of the race.
The cloud and rain had been excited to witness the 2018 okpekpe road race and didn’t want to be left out of it. They wanted to partake so the cloud began to darken and in a moment, it started raining lightly before it gradually became a heavy downpour. It started raining during the 6th kilometer of my race and it rained till I got to the finish line. Frank was not in sight anymore. He had run ahead of me while I was at the back engaging in series of walking and running. I had dropped my bag with an FRSC ambulance telling them I would collect it from them at the finish line. “Keep going. 3km to go keep going. Stay strong” I hear a security officer encouraging me and I nodded and started off running once again.
Ahead of me was a picture of Adams Oshiomole telling the athletes that there was a slope in ahead. When I got there, my speed and joy increased for it was truly a slope. The joy in my heart prompted me to pull of my shirt and hang it on my shoulder as I descended with full speed. When I got to the bridge ahead, the slope was stopped and it was a hill again so I reduced to walking after running very little of the hill. There was a beautiful lady strongly running towards me from behind. I wanted to ask for her permission to hold her hand so we could run the rest of the race together through hills, slopes and bends but when she came closer, her face had been frightening as it had a “don’t come close” frown on it. I took back my plan and let her pass because I didn’t also want to distract her focus. The remaining race was not so eventful. It had been my shirt on my shoulder and my boot splashing the water that had settled on the road. A fresh speed came again when I saw 500meters to go on a banner plastered on the road and with much difficulty; I wore my shirt which was now heavily soaked with water and ran with speed to the finish line with so much pride and excitement as if I had won anything. It was then I remembered that I didn’t register. I felt so ashamed because people would look at me as a non participant because I was not wearing the Okpekpe road race customized sleeveless vest. I felt excited also that I had gotten to the finish line that the winner and others had gotten too. The only thing that had differentiated us was time and official participation. When I got to the finish line, it was not young Bolivia who had set up his stage or Maleeke who performing as MC that bothered me but how to find the ambulance where ii dropped my bag which had my phone inside it and Mohammed who I had come with. The first ambulance I asked had told me that I should check for the second ambulance because they looked like each other and they both had this Z180 labeled all over them. The woman I talked to told me to look for the other ambulance but later told me not to bother because she learnt that the ambulance had gone to Ikpoba Hill in Benin. I decided to stop searching for the ambulance and just at the point of stopping, Mohammed found me and even as I was worried about my phone, part of me became relieved finding Mohammed who was sitting in Fidelity Bank, Auchi Official car. Obinna was the driver. He had brought Uwa, Rose and Chidi to do some marketing at the event. And some minutes later, I was in a car driving home happily and excitedly with Mohammed and his friend after downing a loaf of bread.