UN holds first marathon in Gaza, local runner wins
Gaza, May 5, United Nations Relief and Works Agency –UNRWA- announced that Gaza’s first marathon will be held on the 5th of April 2011 in order to raise funds for its "Summer Games", which benefit the quarter of a million Palestinian children. UNRWA said in a statement that the race will be held on a distance of 42 km on the entire Gaza Strip, where the children will race in stages with the Gazan professional athletic coaches for the Olympic Games in London next year, in addition to the UNRWA staff and local and international participants.
Gemma Connell, Gaza-based Australian UNRWA staff, is one of the first planners of this the marathon idea she even trained hard to be to participate in it ten hours per week during the past five months. Gemmasaid ," We want people to participate and support the marathon if they are in Gaza or the establishment of a similar event for those who can’t come to Gaza, or sponsor one of the Gazan contestants.
She added, "We hope to collect a million dollars and the proceeds will go to the Summer Games in 2011”. These games will give Gazan children entertainment and a sense of accomplishment in these difficult and unusual circumstances and continued, "When you make a donation, you can grant the Gazan child the best two weeks of his life".
1,300 schoolchildren joined the marathoners for the last kilometre of the run and 150 ran an eight-km course. While seven Palestinians and two foreigners living in the Gaza Strip took part in the full marathon.
Naidal Al Masri, local runner, won the race after running 26 miles (42.2km) in 2 hours and 47minutes. Nader’s passion has been running and training for a long time, he ran past Gaza’s long shore, through demolished buildings after Israel’s assault on Gaza in 2008-2009, through piles of sand and on broken roads. Nidal expressed his wish to be a part of London’s marathon in 2012.
Chris Gunness, a spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), confirmed that the Marathon succeeded in in its goal by raising 1 million dollars which will endorse children’s summer camps and summer games in Gaza.
Chris also said that holding such a successful marathon in Gaza just shows that Gaza is a normal place like any other place in the world and can hold marathons just like those places.
Youtube Link of a video by AFP: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AearN6Ow41s
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