There’s so much more to Nigeria than oil. The country is host to key international sports tournaments. In 2009 the U17 Football World Cup brought teams from twenty-four participating nations and spectators from all over the world to eight host cities. Abuja, Calabar, Enugu and Lagos, among others, buzzed with the fervour of a nation to whom football is a religion. Whilst Enugu proudly boasts of its impressive Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Abuja National Stadium is the jewel in the crown for the sporting population of Nigeria. An all-seater multi-sports stadium, constructed to host the 8th All Africa Games in 2003, it is seen by many as one of the greatest architectural landmarks in the city of Abuja.
Athletics is a key discipline in the Nigerian sporting calendar. The annual Obudu International Mountain race, although until recently little known of in the international running press, now boasts an attendance to rival any mountain running event. The 2009 event was oversubscribed long before the closing date for entries. The gruelling course is all uphill for 11 kilometres, increasing in altitude by 800 metres to a summit of 1575 metres above sea level.
Interest has been focused upon the fact that this is the highest paying mountain race in the world, awarding $50,000 for 1st place in 2009. However, another incentive was presented in the 5th year of the event with the inclusion of the African Mountain Running Championships. The Obudu International Mountain Race is now an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) recognised event and a World Mountain Running Association (WMRA) associate member event, firmly putting Nigeria on the international running scene.
African Sun’s Nigeria hotels are well positioned to accommodate this influx of international guests. For example Nike Lake Resort Hotel in Enugu is ideally suited to those fans that also like to play sport, with the opportunity for swimming, volleyball, basketball and tennis. Amber Tinapa located a few minutes’ drive from the centre of Calabar offers one of the most exhilarating water parks in the country and this Nigeria hotel is also at the centre of ‘Nollywood’ – the Nigerian film industry. For an ideal vantage point from which to watch the mountain race chose between Obudu Mountain Resort, at the climax of the race or join the pre-race buzz at Utanga Safari Lodge.