The not-so-little town of Bethlehem is to host the West Bank's first-ever marathon next month in a race starting at the Nativity Church and taking in several refugee camps, organizers said Wednesday.
The brainchild of two Danish women runners, the Palestine Marathon will take place on April 21 and offer runners the choice of three distances: a full 42-kilometer (26-mile) marathon, a half marathon or a 10-kilometer (six-mile) race.
But given the problems of finding an uninterrupted 42-kilometer stretch within Area A, the small portion of the Israeli-occupied West Bank which is under full Palestinian control, those running the full distance will have to do two loops of the town on a course which passes through Aida refugee camp.
"We thought it would be good to have a positive activity to show a different side of life here," said Signe Fischer, who has been working for a Danish NGO (non-governmental organization) in Jerusalem for several years.
News of the race emerged a week after the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, announced it was canceling its third annual Gaza marathon after the ruling Islamist Hamas movement refused to let men and women run together.
Organizers say up to 100 international participants have already signed up for the race, and hundreds of Palestinians have expressed an interest.
AFP - Global Times