Gaza Marathon: UN Agency Invites Runners Worldwide to Participate

International runners, from top athletes to weekend warriors, are being invited to enter next year’s marathon in the Gaza Strip, the United Nations-created race that made its debut this year.

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) sent out an open invitation today to runners to join the expected 2,000 children – including many with special needs – and other locals who will compete in various running events on the same day.

Next year’s Gaza marathon will be held on 1 March and is again being staged to raise money for UNRWA’s Summer Games, which offer sports programmes, cultural events and remedial activities for up to 250,000 children across Gaza.

This year’s marathon, the brainwave of UNRWA staff member Gemma Connell, who also competed in the race, raised more than $1 million and the agency said it hopes to generate a higher figure next year. It is also inviting people worldwide to hold sister events to the Gaza marathon and to donate directly to the Summer Games programmes.

International runners will have the choice of competing in the marathon, a half-marathon or a 10-kilometre contest.

About 1,500 people took part in the inaugural event in May, with most competing in shorter races or relay races.

Nine people finished the full 42.195-kilometre course, which runs north to south, beginning in Beit Hanoun near the Israeli border and ending in Rafah, close to Egypt. The winner was a local Olympic hopeful, Nader al-Misri.

(UN News Center)

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