First Palestinian marathon set for April

Marathon follows races held in J'lem, Tel Aviv in March; Organizers, 'Right to Movement Palestine' seek to showcase beautiful country.

Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem 370 (photo credit: Michael Omer-Man)
Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem 370
(photo credit: Michael Omer-Man)
The Palestinians are planning their first marathon next month in response to the Jerusalem Marathon that took place earlier this month.
The Palestinian marathon has been initiated by Danish and Palestinian runners, who hope to make the race a recurring event.
“Roadblocks, Israeli army, settlements and political conflict come to mind when most people think of Palestine – and this is what everyday life looks like to Palestinians,” the organizers of the event, Right To Movement Palestine Marathon, said.
“But Palestine also offers a magnificent natural landscape and cultural heritage that they want to show the world – not least the Church of the Nativity” in Bethlehem.
The marathon will kick off on April 21 from Bethlehem and take the runners on a four-loop course for the marathon, or a two- or one-loop course for the half-marathon or 10k-race, respectively.
According to the organizers, the new marathon has been in the works for a year. Two Danish women, Laerke Hein and Signe Fischer, got the idea when they were brainstorming on developing a cultural exchange-event between the Palestinians and Denmark.
“We do it to show that the Palestinians love their land and have a lot to offer and are perfectly capable of hosting an international marathon,” said Fischer, who has been working for a Danish NGO in Jerusalem since 2009. “We want to contribute to tell a different story than the one of conflict and war.”
Fischer and her colleague emphasized that “although this may sound as a pro- Palestinian event, it is about giving the Palestinians the opportunity to invite people to explore their beautiful country.”