The winner of the 10km race at the Gold-Label 8th Access Bank Lagos City Marathon and the reigning national champion in the 5000m and 10,000m races at the 2022 National Sports Festival, Paul James Pam, has been tipped to equal the Nigerian record in the Cross Country race set at the National Stadium, Lagos on 19th June 1993 at a time of 14minutes 15seconds, by Timmon Gumel of Plateau state.
Gumel, who still holds the record set at the National Stadium, Lagos in 1993, said, despite the Jos Cross Country competition field having a very competitive field with Ilya Pam and Gyang Boyi among other top Nigerian elite marathon elite runners, the man to watch is Paul James Pam.
Gumel told Nilayo Sports Media in Jos, Plateau State, that, with the current form of Paul James Pam, after winning the 10,000m and the 5000m gold medals at the 2022 National Sports Festival in Asaba where he ran 14minutes 29 seconds and emerging champion of the 10km race at the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon which he did in good time two weeks ago, there is a possibility that he will equal and also set a new national record, to erase my National record set in 1993, during Saturday’s race here in the Jos Cross Country competition.
“The boy is very young, just finished from secondary school. And he still has room to improve. Today I see him as the future of long distance races in Nigeria. So, with the good weather in Jos, he is most likely to equal my record set over 30 years ago.”
“I will be at the Jos Cross Country competition on Saturday to watch the race at the Rhino Golf Club.”
For the Jos Cross Country competition organised by the Nilayo Sports Management Limited, in the words of board member, Athletic Federation of Nigeria, Mr. Dare Esan, the winners at the competition share total cash prizes of N2million for their efforts.
He noted that, the Jos Cross Country will be flag off at 10am at the Rhino Golf Course, Rukuba Army Barracks, by the Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, because of the extreme cold weather in Jos, Plateau state.
“We have to adjust our flag off time from 8am to 10am, as the cold weather may affect the timing of the race, and we want everything to be perfect.”
He added that the entire 10km race will be competed for inside the Rhino Golf Course, a very good venue for a Cross Country race, looking at the rough hilly terrain, flat, slopes and relevant obstacles characteristics of a world class 10km Cross Country race. The finish line is in front of the Rhino Golf Club house very close to the starting point.
“Just as it is done in the World Cross Country competition, the route is arranged in loops of 2km or 2.5km each to be ran in five loops, such that the public can see the runners compete fairly.”
Osheku, the Coordinator of the competition disclosed that, a total of 150 runners have been confirmed for the 2023 Jos Cross Country with one foreign entry from Cameroon
He added that, this edition of the Jos Country Race will tremendously help Nigerian long distance runners in winning international full marathon races as the condition is excellent to improve our runners’ performances.
“If Nigerian elite runners are exposed regularly to conditions of Cross Country competitions like what we have at the Jos Cross Country with serious training on same terrain, they surely will get better opportunities to challenge and compete favourably and even win some of the long distance races against the East Africans.
“The format of competition is the same with what obtains at the World Cross Country. It’s 10km, ran in 2km or 2.5km loops, such that spectators can watch runner go round in open performance,” Tony Osheku said in Jos.