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Gaza stages first ever marathon

Thursday, May 05, 2011 - 01:45

May 5 - Hundreds of schoolchildren join runners competing in the first marathon held the Gaza Strip, raising over 1 million dollars for children summer camps. Sunita Rappai reports.

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These young school children are limbering up for an historic event - the first marathon ever to be held in the Hamas-run territory of Gaza. The tiny coastal strip, which has been blockaded by Israel since 2007, is only just big enough to run the 26 km distance in a straight line. Organised by the United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA), some fourteen hundred children from Gazan schools joined the nine main runners for part of the race. UN spokesman Christopher Gunness said the event raised over $1 million for children's summer camps. SOUNDBITE (English) CHRISTOPHER GUINESS, UNITED NATIONS RELIEFE AND WORK AGENCY (UNWRA) SPOKESPERSON SAYING: "It's wonderful. It's the first ever marathon in Gaza. You have the London Marathon, the Sydney Marathon, you have the New York Marathon and now thanks to UNWRA you have the Gaza marathon. It's a great day for people in Gaza. It just shows that Gaza can be a great place it it's given the chance. Let's give Gaza a chance". The race began in the northern town of Beit Hanoun, close to the Israeli town of Sderot and ended in Rafah on the Egyptian border. Palestinian Olympic athlete Nader Al-Masri won the event in 2 hours, 42 minutes and 47 seconds - though the hot conditions left many of the athletes exhausted. Al-Masri, who trained along Gaza's pot holed streets and bombed-out buildings, said he hopes to represent Palestine at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Sunita Rappai, Reuters

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Gaza stages first ever marathon

Thursday, May 05, 2011 - 01:45