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Record of 40,000 runners at Jerusalem Marathon held to honor security and rescue forces

15,000 IDF soldiers, 1,800 foreign runners participate

Jerusalem Marathon 2024 Photo: Sportsphotography

Some 40,000 runners flocked to Jerusalem on Friday morning, as the city’s 13th Marathon saw a record number of participants in what has become one of the capital’s largest annual events.

This year’s 13th International Jerusalem Winner Marathon was held in honor of Israel Defense Forces, security forces and rescue teams, and to raise awareness for the 132 Israeli hostages who are still held captive in Gaza.

The city was enveloped in a festival-like atmosphere on Friday morning, with masses of people streaming to central Jerusalem’s Sacker Park, the main staging area of the event and the endpoint of the marathon.

The event began early in the morning with DJ Yarin Ilovitz, who survived the Hamas massacre at the Nova musical festival at Kibbutz Re’im on Oct. 7, and Mia Leimberg, a Jerusalem resident who was held hostage for two months, opening the main event of the full marathon race over 42 kilometers.

Other events of the day included a Half Marathon (21.1-km), a 10-km Race, a 5-km Race, and a Family Race (1.7-km).

Among the record number of some 40,000 runners were some 15,000 IDF soldiers in reserve and regular service, members of security and rescue forces, and approximately 1,800 international participants.

The Jerusalem Marathon is famous for its track full of religious and historic landmarks spanning some 3,000 years, including the Knesset, the walls of the Old City, David’s Tower, Mount Zion, the German Colony, the Mount of Olives, and more.

Israeli media reported that close to 100,000 people filled the staging area at Sacker Park, enjoying the festival-like atmosphere with a trampoline-dancing stage for children, food stores, and dozens of small booths.

A colorful crowd participated in the 10-km race, the marathon’s most popular event. Thousands of spectators lining the streets cheered on their friends and loved ones while being entertained by several runners participating in costume. Among those spotted were at least one banana, a Tyrannosaurus, as well as the local team Hapoel Jerusalem’s mascot lion.

Jerusalem Marathon 2024 Photo: All Israel News

Four hundred soldiers and their commander, from the IDF’s Oketz K9 unit, ran in memory of Arie Ziring, their friend who fell in battle in the Gaza Envelope on Oct. 7.

The most famous participant was Jerusalem’s newly re-elected mayor Moshe Lion, who ran the 5-km race together with his coach, Izhak Vexler, who was injured during battles in the Gaza Strip.

“Since its establishment, the Jerusalem Winner Marathon has become one of the most experiential and professional sports events for every athlete in Israel and around the world,” Lion stated.

“I am proud that we broke the all-time record for the number of participants in the marathon and successfully held it, especially during this time… We all hope for the swift return of all the captives to their homes and families, and for the speedy recovery of all our soldiers on the front lines. See you at the next marathon in March 2025!” the mayor added.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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