• Monday, March 04, 2024
businessday logo


Finding purpose at Access Bank Lagos City Marathon 2024


“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up, you’d better be running.” – Christopher McDougall, Born to Run

I came across this quote at the most opportune time, just as I was wondering about how to pen the story of two of the most inspirational people I have been privileged to meet in recent years. Summarily, this story is one of courage, resilience, and sheer grit. It’s a tale of two individuals – Ada and Emeka – whose paths converged on a journey that will lead them towards competing this week at the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon 2024.

Ada, born with a condition that left her unable to walk without assistance, had always dreamed of participating in the marathon. Despite the doubts and uncertainties that often clouded her mind, she refused to let her disability define her. With each passing day, Ada embarked on a journey of self-discovery, pushing herself beyond her perceived limitations and embracing the belief that anything was possible if she remained determined and applied herself in the right way.

Emeka, on the other hand, faced his own set of challenges. Blind since a tragic accident several years ago, he had grappled with feelings of isolation and despair. However, as he immersed himself in the world of adaptive sports, he discovered a newfound sense of purpose and a passion for running that burned brighter than ever before.

Their paths crossed one fateful day during a local running event for individuals with disabilities. As Ada struggled to navigate the course with her walker, Emeka offered a helping hand, guiding her with the expertise of someone who had traversed similar paths before. In that moment, a bond was forged – a bond fuelled by a shared determination to defy the odds and pursue their dreams with unwavering resolve.

Together, Ada and Emeka embarked on a journey towards the 2024 Access Bank Lagos City Marathon. With each training session, they pushed themselves to the limit, overcoming obstacles and setbacks with a tenacity that knew no bounds. They were met with scepticism and disbelief from those who doubted their abilities, but they refused to be deterred. For Ada and Emeka, the marathon is not just a race – it is a symbol of their indomitable spirit, a testament to their purpose and resilience in the face of adversity.

Two weeks to Saturday, February 10, 2024 – the day of the race – Ada and Emeka stood in front of the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Onikan, with their hearts racing as they engaged in a hectic running session. They had overcome countless obstacles to reach this moment. This time though, the meaning felt deeper, they knew that they were set to embark on a journey that could change their lives forever.

The road ahead would be challenging, filled with twists and turns, ups and downs. But as Ada and Emeka ran side by side, their spirits felt free, and they embraced an exhilaration that surpassed the physical pain. As I stood in awe of them, it quickly became apparent to me that in the moment, they were not defined by their disabilities. They were defined by their courage, resilience, and determination to find their feet and chase their dreams, no matter how arduous the road may seem.

On Saturday, there will be many like Ada and Emeka, and just like corporates like Access Holdings have organised this race to support the dreams of many on a journey of purpose, we must also play our parts as individuals and cheer for friends, colleagues and charities who will be running for something deeper.

On race day, all dreams will be valid, and every participant will be a winner because, for many non-elite runners, it won’t be about finishing the race first, but rather a sense of achievement that they have conquered the course and found their feat.