In a country where there are more sprinters than long distance runners, indeed, Nigeria has a rare breed in Adedayo Akinbode.
Born in January of 1967, as a young girl, she was a voracious reader. She had a fantastic geography teacher who made it easy for her to fall in love with physical geography and regional geography. In her youth, she fantasized about travelling to different parts of the world.
When she began her career in Supply Chain Management, she launched into her dreams of seeing the world. In fact, her family used the book – 1,000 Places To See Before You Die, to plan their vacations. Who says dreams don’t come true?
Running became her passion over time. For someone who had hitherto laughed at her husband when he was out brisk walking/exercising, all that changed when she got medical feedback that she was overweight and had to watch her cholesterol levels.
She started running in November 2012 and soon, she discovered she was enjoying it. Now, she is not herself when she doesn’t run in two days.
Even though she initially ran for fun, her turning point came on a day she was out running in the rain. Initially, she was so sure that other road users would think she was not a normal person until she met a lady who was also running in the rain. They became friends and that relationship opened her to running marathons.
Initially, she thought it was a crazy idea but in September 2013, the duo got wind of a running event in Ghana for full marathons (42 Kilometres) and half-marathons (21 Kilometres). They happily registered for the half-marathon event.
Adedayo went on to run the race in Ghana in 2 Hrs 28 mins. Since that race, she has continually pushed herself and has gone on to run six (6) marathons, the first being the Dubai marathon for which she quickly registered before she could be talked out of it. In Dubai, she completed her first full marathon in 5 hours 14 minutes 8 Seconds, finishing the race before the cut-off time of 6 hours.
After Dubai, she registered for the Kilimanjaro half-marathon which was actually two events in one, because after the race, she went on to conquer the Kilimanjaro Mountains – a gruelling 5-day hike. The Kilimanjaro marathon was a very hilly course compared to the flat Dubai course and she completed it in 2 hours 23 minutes 2 secs.
Next stop was the Victoria Falls Full Marathon in Zimbabwe in June 2014, a race she dedicated to the missing Chibok girls in northern Nigeria. The race course went through National Game Parks and she finished the race in 5hrs 8mins 2 secs.
For Dayo, the more marathons she ran, the more her hunger to run more marathons grew.
She later ran the Oslo half marathon in September 2014 and the Popular Berlin Full Marathon a week after. Again, she was the only Nigerian in both races. December 6 saw her running as the only Nigerian in the full Reggae marathon in Jamaica.
Adedayo runs anywhere and everywhere. In a bid to effectively cross-train and allow her muscles get some rest, she also picked up cycling.
According to her,
Every runner competes against himself/herself. We don’t compete against each other. If you finish a marathon in 5 hours 40 mins, you start training for your next one to at least beat your personal record
Talk about focus and determination.
Her biggest running challenge will happen in February of 2015 when Adedayo and 26 other Marathon Adventurers will attempt the Triple7Quest, which is an Initiative to run7 Full-Marathons, in 7 Days in 7 Continents.
This will see them run in downtown Melbourne Australia on 8th February, then the capital of the oil-rich UAE, Abu Dhabi on 9th February.
On 10th February, they will be running in romantic city of Paris France. From there, they will move over to the historical city of Tunis in Tunisia for the African Leg. That is on the 11th of February, they will be running in New York City in the USA, in a public park dating back to the 18th Century on the Long Island.
Next stop will be on the 12th February at the coastal town of Punta Arenas, Chile (commonly known as the gateway to Antarctica). The final race will be around the research bases of King George Island in Antarctica where the weather is highly unpredictable. Yes, Adedayo will be running on ice. Wow!!!
All the air tickets for this audacious Quest has been booked and Adedayo can’t wait to conquer the world and have her name on the Guinness World Book of Records.
Everywhere she runs, she goes with the Nigerian flag to disclose to the world that Nigerians can also do this.
Even though she admits that running can be an expensive venture, her love for running overshadows all of that. Aside from the health benefits of running, she has also been able to visit different countries of the world and meeting many fantastic and amazing people along the way.
Running also helps her to manage stress. When she gets home and is cranky, she gets her running shoes and hits the road and she feels a lot better.
Upon research, she has found out that when you run/exercise, the brain releases endorphins. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. That feeling, known as a “runner’s high,” can be accompanied by a positive and energizing outlook on life. According to her, her greatest ideas come when she is on the streets running.
In a country like Nigeria that is known for her exploits in the sprint races, Nigeria now has a marathoner who is willing to brave the odds and compete in the terrain reserved for our East African brothers.
Kenyans, Ethiopians, Ugandans etc – Watch out!!!!
p.s. You can connect with Adedayo via her Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/dayoakinbode
Wow!! That’s all I can say!
Ma Chere Dayo, que Dieu soit ta puissance!!
Thank’s a lot for your comment and prayer ma. En effet, Dieu donnera sa force.
Amazing! I can imagine having a passion that comes with great health benefits.