The Toronto Star called it ‘an obsessive idea’.
And the mayor of the city of Toronto at the time – David Miller – endorsed it, tweeting a video of him training.
Why was Fadesola Adedayo, a 25-year old Canada-trained civil engineer coming to Nigeria to complete the extraordinary feat of running 17 marathons in 17 days covering 11 states and 717 kilometres from Abuja to Lagos?
In March 2012, his elder brother, a Lagos-based medical doctor who once ran the London Marathon while studying medicine in Birmingham, to the Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, a rare skin condition. Often a severe reaction to medication, it is so rare that there are only 1.2 cases per million people per year.
“He was, like, the golden boy of our family,” says Adedayo of his brother, in a recent interview.
To immortalize the elder Adedayo, he decided to run the marathon to was raise awareness about the condition and a million dollars to be held in trust by the Ade Skin Foundation, named in honour of his brother. As at the time of writing this, he has raised over $7,000 in his quest.
But for anyone wondering, Adedayo’s passion for healthcare extends even beyond marathons. Once, after a workout session, after finding no delicious yet nutritious, low calorie smoothie or frozen yoghurt in Nigeria, he developed his own variety.
“Everything else was either very high in calories, didn’t use real fruits, or had frozen yoghurt made from powder- which has little to no health benefits. So Bia was developed during my training [for the marathons].”
According to him, “Bia is the 1st company in West Africa to make frozen yogurt made from real yoghurt with real berries- strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, peaches, etc. resulting in over a hundred different combinations of flavours. We are also working on making those fruits available in West Africa.”
The company was named after the Greek God of Energy and aims to bring raw force and energy to every life in the world to help them live longer, stronger and better. “We believe in the usage of the best ingredients, greatest packaging, and outstanding customer service in order to give our clients the best products possible.”
It seemed like an uphill task at first, says Adedayo. “After all, where do you source blueberries, strawberries etc and bring them to Nigeria at an affordable price? How do you register your products with federal authorities such as NAFDAC? How do you do world class backing with very little funding?”
But having surmounted the challenges of running his multiple marathons (“there was no ice at all in Lokoja so I had to run without ice”), he is positive the business can go far and makes an unusual comparison with the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP) for which he was selected in 2026.
“Most people were at first doubtful that it would ever happen and then were amazed when they saw irrefutable proof that it really happened, much like when Tony Elumelu announced that he was giving billions to great ideas in Africa.”
His reaction to being selected as one of the lucky 1,000 entrepreneurs from among a pool of over 65,000 fellow entrepreneurs to receive $10,000 in seed capital also cleared any doubts he had about the success of his business.
“It was a great honor and privilege to be selected among the top 2% of applicants in Africa even more so as it is a programme being run by the visionary, philanthropist and Africapitalist.”
In June 2016, there was a ‘soft launch’ of Bia and his customer base has began to swell, even as Adedayo applies principles learned during the 12-week phase on the mentorship and learning portal of the entrepreneurship programme. “It’s a huge alignment of my career goals”, he reveals. “I truly believe that Africans have the best solutions or African development because they are often the most aware of the unique set of problems facing Africa as well as the unique solutions they require.”
Adedayo believes that given the support of the Tony Elumelu Foundation together with a clear vision, hard work and most importantly purpose, anything is possible – definitive proof that Bia, like his seventeen marathons, is yet another obsessive idea for the young African returnee.