The 12th Jerusalem "Winner" Marathon was officially launched in a festive event and in the presence of Culture and Sport Minister Miki Zohar and Jerusalem's Mayor Moshe Lion, who awarded the athlete Blessing Afrifah
Valentina Versca, 33, won the full marathon, at the Jerusalem Winner Marathon last year, and has been invited to run the 2023 marathon by the Jerusalem Municipality and she is running in support of Team United Hatzalah.
The 12th annual Jerusalem Winner Marathon was launched on Monday at the Mamilla Rooftop in a festive event and in the presence of Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion. During the event, Lion honored Israeli athlete Blessing Afrifah, the under-20 world champion in 200m and the fourth adolescent in history to run this heat under 20 seconds, joining a respectable list next to Usain Bolt, Erriyon Knighton and Letsile Tebogo.
Afrifah, Europe's youth record holder and Israel's three-time champion, will participate this year in the Jerusalem Marathon as part of the Community Run route, escorting runners from nonprofit organizations and associations.
On March 17, tens of thousands of runners will participate in the race, which is considered one of the most beautiful and challenging in the world. Valentina Versca, winner of the 2022 Jerusalem Marathon, also announced from her home in the US that she is coming back to run in Jerusalem in support of Team United Hatzalah. Versca, a Ukrainian refugee, stopped the clock in 2022 at 2:45:54 after she escaped the war in Ukraine to Poland with her 11-year-old daughter, made it to Israel and participated in the run.
A year of major Israeli sporting events
The marathon will be the opening shot of several significant sport events that will take place in the Israeli capital this year. Among the events are: Israel's State Cup finals, both in basketball and soccer, the European under-20 Athletics Championships and more.
"The Jerusalem Winner Marathon, which takes place for the 12th time in our capital, presents Jerusalem to the world in the best way possible and strengthens its position in a way only sport is capable of," said Zohar. "The landscapes, the buildings, the people and the abilities Israel shows during the competition are the things that make sporting events like this one so important. I wish all runners a great experience and good luck."
Lion also shared his excitement.
"Blessing Afrifah is a role model for the future athletes of Israel," said the Jerusalem mayor. "His impressive achievements at such a young age have already made history and left a mark, and we wish him good luck in conquering more and more landmarks."
The soft-spoken Afrifah is also looking forward to the event.
"I am very excited to receive an award in this honorable event of the Jerusalem Winner Marathon, which in my view represents a competition everyone can take part in. I wish all participants good luck, and thank you for the opportunity to take part in the marathon as representative of the Community Run, a route dedicated for groups who practice incredible compassion and kindness for Israeli society," Afrifa exclaimed.
Approximately 40,000 participants are expected to run the special trail, including important and historical landmarks in Jerusalem, next. to spectacular and breathtaking views, such as: the Israeli Supreme Court, the Israel Museum, Beit HaNassi, the Walls of Jerusalem and the Armenian Quarter, David's Citadel, Khan Theatre, and the Sultan's Pool.
"The Jerusalem Winner Marathon celebrates 12 years of age, and over the years has become an inseparable part of the cultural and sporting events reaching the capital each year," added Lion. "I am happy and proud to accommodate tens of thousands of runners that came from all over Israel, and thousands who traveled across the seas to take part in one of the most unique marathons in the world."
As in each year, dozens of non-profit organizations will participate, including: Chaiyanu, Woman to Woman, Shalva, Runners without borders, Bat-Melech, Keren Gefen and Home Base.
Registration for the marathon is open and offers six routes: Full Marathon (42.2km), Half Marathon (21.1km), 10km, 5km, Family Run (1.7km) and Community Run (800m). For registration and more details about the routes, accommodation options and additional events surrounding the marathon, please visit jerusalem-marathon.com