In this, the fifth year of the Access Lagos City Marathon, with a silver rating from the IAAF and four hugely successful years under the belt, Lagos will once again be flooded with runners, volunteers and spectators alike. Come 8th of February 2020, all roads will lead to National Stadium Surulere for the flag off of the biggest race on the African Continent, the Access Lagos City Marathon. Everyone living in Lagos is always astounded that the city will permit its streets to be shut down for any reason, Lagosians defy everything when it comes to their city being tamed, but in the case of the marathon…well, that is an exception to the rule. Early in February, the Marathon rules and Lagos, for once, listen and pipes down, that is for only a few hours. Once it is over, Lagosians rule the land, the water, and the air, as usual.

However, when a marathon enters its fifth year, it is always a special event. Why is this fifth year special? It marks a point-of-no-return, it is here to stay. This is very important for a city because it shows that there is a will to continue and build on the lessons of a marathon. So to recap, these are the lessons of a marathon.

Firstly, it is about endurance. This is not a race for the faint-hearted, lazy or fickle-minded. It takes a particular kind of person to register, show up, run and finish. It takes a particular type of city to do this every year, even till the fifth year. It takes a particular type of sponsor to put down millions of Naira, every year, even in and out of recession and economic uncertainty. It takes a particular type of Management to handle the insane workload to pull this off year after year. If that is not endurance, then I don’t know what else is.

Secondly, it is about fitness. This is not a race for the unfit, no, not at all. It takes dedicated training to run a marathon. No one in their right mind wakes up one bright sunny day and decides they are going to run 42 kilometers. For four years, Marathoners, Sponsors, the Management Team has been training annually to be fit for the Marathon, physically, mentally and financially.

Thirdly, it is about discipline. This is not a race for those who have no discipline. It takes serious discipline to stay true to your race plan, to stay the course, to finish well. Marathoners display great physical discipline, Sponsors display great financial discipline and the Management Team displays great administrative discipline.

Fourthly it takes integrity. This is not a race for those who have no integrity. There is a certain level of honour that serious Marathoners must have, the same goes for Sponsors and the Management Team, as a lack of honour would have ended this marathon years ago.

Fifthly it takes valour. This is not a race for those who have no courage. Courage must rise in the heart of a warrior, just like those who are connected with marathons. Even if one starts out afraid, one must wear their ‘courage cap’, put their best foot forward, remember their past victories and rise to the challenge. Sometimes one loses a little battle to win the war, which shows valour lies in the heart.

A child that was born when the Access Lagos City Marathon started would be celebrating his/her 5th birthday; let us not brush this aside as ordinary. The Marathoners, Sponsors, The Management Team and the City of Lagos have stayed a noble course for the last five years showing endurance, fitness, discipline, integrity, and valour, what a formidable combination! As Lagos gears up to run into a new year and a new decade, I wish all concerned with the Access Lagos City Marathon the very best.

Going forward, we should all try to take these marathon lessons into our daily lives; we should have endurance and not be tossed about by every adverse wind or foolish doctrine, we should keep fit always, we have only one body and mind to live in, we should always be disciplined, that is the only way to live a civilized life. Likewise, we should live with integrity, the coming generations need decent and authentic examples to emulate and we should be people of valour, always having the courage and drawing on past victories to get the right things done, change our narrative for the better and leave a great legacy. Viva La Marathon! Viva Lagos! How are you running the marathon of your life?

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