Runners brave cold and rain in annual Jerusalem marathon

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat watches the first marathon runners pass under the starting arch of the race. (Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

JERUSALEM (JWN and agencies)—More than 15,000 runners from some 50 countries took part Friday in Jerusalem’s annual marathon races, despite constant, chilling rain and undaunted by a stabbing attack on a woman soldier in the capital the day before.

Some 400 police and soldiers were deployed along the routes of the full-, half-, and 10-kilometer races, following Thursday’s stabbing of soldier Yehudit Aharon, 19, as she was riding the light rail to her base in northern Jerusalem.

Aharon was seriously wounded, but was reported out of critical condition Friday morning. Her assailant, a 20-year-old Palestinian resident of Jerusalem, stabbed her several times in the chest and arms just as the train was stopping and fled as the doors opened, but was quickly apprehended.

Security forces took him for questioning to determine whether he had acted alone. The assault, which was captured on the train’s security camera, was the first terrorist attack on the light rail since it began carrying passengers in August.

Hours after the attack Mayor Nir Barkat encouraged residents to continue riding the light rail and not to let the incident disrupt normal life in the capital. “Daily routine in Jerusalem will continue and the light rail will continue to operate and serve all residents, Jews and Arabs,” Barkat told Channel 10 news.

The winner of the full marathon was David Toniok Cherono from Kenya, who finished with a time of 2:19:52, breaking the course record set last year.

Onesmus Serem of Kenya took first place in the half-marathon (21 km), finishing with a time of 01:05:55.

Second place in the half-marathon went to Kenyan Feyisa Lema, with a time of 01:06:03 and third place went to fellow Kenyan Alex Chepkwik Saekwo, with a time of 01:06:41.

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.

The 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.

Some 1,500 runners began the 26.2 mile (42 kilometer) race at 7 a.m., followed by more than 8,000 half-marathoners and 10k competitors an hour later.

Two jazz bands played while runners were completing their final preparations at the start.

“This is a tremendous day for the entire city of Jerusalem,” Mayor Barkat said. “The whole city is a winner today.”

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