“Now that l am 47, l can run from University of Uyo, main campus at Nwaniba road to Water fountain (to and fro ) within 30mins, covering 7.1km. l can also race from the main campus to Ibom Plaza (to-fro) within one hour, covering 11.8km. I have also used my skill to run from the main campus to the Ibom Hotels & Golf Resort (to and fro), the five star junction at Idu-Uruan within I hour 30 minutes, covering 14.2km.”
These are the words of Aniedi Joseph Edet aka 11, 11 who races twice a day covering a long distance in an inexplicable time frame. His passion towards racing is quite remarkable and regardless of not furthering his education to secondary and tertiary institution, this has not impeded him from picking up his retarded sport kits of two year old to hit the dark street of Nwaniba Road as early as 5am to keep his dream alive.
Interestingly, Mr Edet who hails from Nung Obio Itit, Uyo LGA, Akwa lbom State has built up his body, which passes for that of a young man in his thirties. His gruesome daily racing routine made him smart and lively from childhood. This enables him to cover long distances without stress.
On May 16, 1973, Young Aniedi was born into the family of 8 as the second child to Mr and Mrs Joseph Edet. The family was relatively poor but out of the circumstances, Aniedi found his flare in running.
Between 1984 to 1987, that is at age 11 – 14 , Young Aniedi Edet was known and applauded for his exceptional skills at Saint Philip’s Catholic School at Use-Offot, Uyo for racing. Through this, he was awarded certificates, ranging from 400m, 500m, 800m to 1600m.
In primary 4 at the age of 14, young Aniedi was selected among other young runners to be trained in Abuja. Unfortunately, he missed out of the opportunity because his parents could not raise up to N250 and he was left to wallow up in tears.
Edet’s life story was however tagged as one who had fallen from grace to grass when his dream was cut short at an early age due to his parents’ inability to sponsor him to further his passion as an athlete to the national level.
In his words, “I had no help to pursue my dreams to the international and national fame. Not even my father who was a palm wine tapper and my mother who happened to be a house wife could sponsor my trip with N250.
It was a bit heartbreaking that my mum could raise about N150 of the money,” he lamented.
Consequently, he could not further his education to higher or tertiary institutions, after his primary 6 because he had a father who was not interested in education, although his mother was willing but she had no job.
Being from a poor background, he had to engage in hawking business to support his family financially but between his dealings as a hawker, Aniedi still engaged in the racing game.
As a child raised in a rural area, Aniedi continued to fend for survival and in the course of his life, he got married and was blessed with five children. AIthough overwhelmed with family responsibilities, he never gave up on his passion for running.
“Since l could not continue schooling, l had to start hawking provisions for survival. But l was often distracted by the racing game between the time of my hawking business.
At age 45, the inspiring athlete stepped up his game by running twice a day to meet up a certain distance in a rather short time and he has continued to keep his dream alive even now that he is 47 year old.
“Now that l am 47, l can run from University of Uyo, main campus at Nwaniba road to Water fountain (to and fro) within 30mins, covering 7.1km. I can also race from the main campus to Ibom Plaza (to-fro) within one hour, covering 11.8km. I have also used my skills to run from the main campus to the Ibom Golf resort (to and fro), the Five Star Junction at Idu-Uruan within I hour, 30 minutes covering 14.2km.”
Aniedi Edet has held on to his dreams regardless of the disappointments he encountered in his childhood. Although he finds himself in a competitive environment where young minds seem to be mostly preferred in the racing activities, this does not deter him from waking up as early as 5am almost everyday to jog down the dark streets to his desired destination.
“Through that trials of rejection, running has been my balm of Gilead. My ability to race very well made people to start knowing me and even now, I am applauded for my skills in running.
Although my sports kit is not in a good shape because of running almost every morning and evening, this has not stopped me from keeping appointments with the racing game because it is my life and my escape route.”
His skills have given him room to coach both the elderly and young ones in his resident. “l can coach anybody and l have been training people in my streets for few years now how. Around September this year, I am going to commence a semi academy to train other younger ones.”
As a man with great zeal, he has pledged to run from Ibom Plaza to Idu Uruan Secretariat on Nov, 11, 2020, as his name implies, 11,11 to showcase to the State Government and the world his abilities in racing.
However, through the hurdles and the hampers, Aniedi decided to keep his dream alive, hoping tomorrow, he would be given opportunity to coach upcoming athletes beyond the shores of Akwa lbom State and Nigeria. With this heralding Dakadda Spirit, Voice Your Stories team awards him with the Personality of the Week for his self-reliant and active spirit towards his dream.