marathon on Friday, experiencing some growing pains along with the glory and
honor of hosting a major international athletics event.
The race ended in
some confusion as the three leading runners apparently took a wrong turn and
arrived at the wrong finish line.
Undeterred by terror, J'lem Marathoners load on
First Jerusalem Marathon hits City of Gold
The first runner to arrive at the
actual finish line was Kenyan Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot with a time of 2:27:48,
but later on Raymond Kipkoech, 34, of Kenya was announced as the official winner
with a time of 2:26:44 after apparently going off the course and arriving at the
finish line of the half-marathon in a different location.
was taken by Mutai Kopkorir, 24, of Kenya with a time of 2:26:55 and in third
was Kiman Njorage, 33, also of Kenya with a time of 2:27:19. Cheruiyot was
credited with a fourth-place finish.
Spectators positioned at the 42
kilometer finish line were immediately confused by a live video feed of Raymond
Kipkoech – who was leading the pack of full marathon runners – crossing the
halfmarathon line while Cheruiyot broke the tape in front of their
Finding the finish line was not the only obstacle. Some runners
complained of a lack of signs marking distances along the trail. Completing the
final 200 meters was physically challenging – and dangerous. Due to the previous
two days of rain, the grass at Gan Sacher soaked through and turned to
Race officials covered the home stretch to the finish line with
green tarp, but runners sunk deep into the ground with each step.
the few difficulties in the race route, the Jerusalem proved to be a boon to the
“This is a tremendous day for the entire city of Jerusalem,”
Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat said. “The whole city is a winner
4,000 runners from abroad booked rooms in local hotels, which
were filled to capacity.
One of Barkat’s goals in hosting the marathon –
which he may run next year – was to put Jerusalem on the international marathon
map, which includes cities such as New York, Berlin, and Paris.
to have succeeded.
Jerusalem will host its second international marathon,
which will be held next year on March 16.
When the first runners arrived
outside the Knesset before 6 a.m., it seemed unlikely that they would be willing
to shed their sweatshirts and long pants. Just over two hours and twentysix
minutes later, when Kenyan Kipkoech crossed the finish line in Gan Sacher, the
weather had improved to perfect running weather.
1,500 people began the
26.2 mile (42 kilometer) race at 7 a.m., followed by over 8,000 half-marathoners
and 10kcompetitors an hour later.
Two jazz bands played while runners
were completing their final preparations at the start.
early Friday morning was light, with runners realizing the significance of the
“I guess the only emotion I can feel right now is excitement,”
said Donny Greenberg, 18, of Engelwood, NJ, moments before beginning his
42-kilometer trek, which he completed four hours and fifty-one minutes
A group of five French runners jumped up and down and danced,
singing Hebrew, Zionistic songs as runners lined up.
Noticeable among the
yellow- shirted runners were many charities with teams of runners: Chai
Lifeline, whose runners gathers hours beforehand; Shalva, sporting bright purple
t-shirts; Team Tzvi, the group of yeshiva students; and Yad Vashem, partnering
with Blue Card.
Running the half-marathon was a large group of soldiers
in officer’s training school as well as a large contingent of paratroopers in
bright red uniforms.
The joyous mood picked up less than a kilometer away
from where it left off: by the finish line. Dozens of tents sold health products
and food, and two stages featured musical performances and presented awards to
Every runner who completed the marathon in under six
hours received a medal commemorating the inaugural event. Winner, the primary
sponsor of the marathon, provided the free service of taking four to eight
pictures of individual runners and posting them directly to their Facebook
The winning female runner was Oda Worknesh, 26 from Ethiopia with
a time of 2:50:05. Second was Rosaline David, 35 from Kenya with a time of
2:50:06 and in third, Wioletta Kryza, 42 from Poland at 2:51:21.
winning time in the half-marathon was 1:12:41, posted by Adugna Assefa Deriba,
while the 10k was won by Bikala Yehuala Beyene in a time of 33:55, with Israeli
Omar Bekkali just seven seconds back in second place.