Adedayo Akinbode, 50, left her lucrative engineering position at Shell Nigeria to follow her passion for marathon running and globetrotting. Six years later, she has finished 112 marathons in 77 countries and seven continents, including eight balcony and eleven virtual marathons, after her first race at Ghana’s Accra International Marathon on September 11, 2013 – where she covered 21,000 meters.
“One day in 2012, when I went for my annual routine medical checkup, the doctor told me that I was obese with a high cholesterol level and needed to change my lifestyle if I did not want to die young,” Adedayo said in an interview with Nigeria’s Vanguard Newspaper.
“He also told me, ‘Don’t eat this, don’t eat that,’ and all the things he told me not to eat were what I loved most. I just put the report aside and did nothing about it, although I didn’t want to die.”
Shell’s company-wide program to encourage employees to walk 10,000 steps each day, on the other hand, provided her with the ideal occasion to kick-start her marathon racing experiences and a journey toward a better living.
“We were tasked to form groups of 7 each and take ten thousand steps every day for one to be normal. Luckily for me, that was the last day for enlistment for the program. I was one of the last people to join a group,” the engineer recalled. “My source of motivation was that each member of the group received a bag and a pair of socks. We were also issued speedometers to monitor how many steps we took daily.”
She is a record-breaker who competes in other sporting escapades other than marathons. Adedayo and a group of pals ascended Mount Kilimanjaro in 2014, sparking her drive for additional challenges.
In 2015, she joined another group of explorers on the Triple 7 Quest, which consisted running 7 marathons in 7 continents in 7 days. Unfortunately, due to bad weather conditions, the party finished the challenge in 11 days rather than 7, and had to camp in Punta Arenas, Chile, for an extra 5 days to obtain approval to fly to the 7th Continent, Antarctica.
She also took part in the 2019 Khunjerab Pass Marathon, the world’s highest road marathon, with all participants earning Guinness World Records.
Whenever she crosses a Finish Line, she always waves the Nigerian flag. It excites her to hear pundits, spectators, and other competitors mention her country’s name as she approaches a Finish Line, she says. She drapes herself in the Nigerian flag to represent Nigeria and provides her support to change the Nigerian narrative around the world, according to The Guardian Nigeria.
While passing Finish Lines around the world, the Guinness World Record holder discovered her passion for photography, which has allowed her to communicate the beauty of the world and her beloved country, Nigeria, in ways that words cannot express. With no professional photography training, the marathoner and cyclist staged her first solo show, “Colors and Flavors,” in Lagos, Nigeria, in 2021.
In an interview with This Day Live, Adedayo said, “There is beauty in the whole world, but then in other places, I see beauty and the way it’s embraced. But this beauty isn’t as good as the one back in my country. So I decided to start capturing and documenting the beauty in Lagos. When people talk about Lagos, what comes to mind is traffic, a heap of rubbish, and fraudsters, and that’s what few of them would tell you. However, every city has the good, the bad, and the ugly.”
She added, “So I said to myself, I’m a proud Nigerian. Let the CNN’s and the BBC’s talk about the bad and the ugly if they want to, I am going to showcase the good of my city. That’s why I started documenting this and sharing.”
The world traveler studied Materials and Metallurgical Engineering at the University of Ife, which is now known as Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria. She is also a Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS) and Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) member.
Adedayo is the founder of the Ile Ife Heritage Marathon, a project aimed at bridging the gap between marathons held in impoverished and developed countries by organizing “marathons that meet global standards.”