Kenyan runner Ezekiel Koech, 28, won the Tel Aviv Marathon on Friday, finishing the race with a record-breaking time of 2:14:40.
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The second- and third-place finishers at the 42-kilometer (26.2-mile) race were also Kenyans who came to Israel especially for the marathon.
Despite the comfortable weather Friday, 85 runners required medical treatment during the race. Nine people treated for heatstroke were in moderate condition.
The race caused massive traffic jams in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area as 40,000 participants pounded the city’s pavements.
Many thoroughfares were closed from the early morning hours Friday and were expected to open up again midday. No parking was allowed along any of the running routes from Thursday evening. In addition, public transportation routes were changed to avoid the marathon’s routes.
Runners lined up at the starting line near the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds Friday morning for the various races. Organizers estimated that some 150,000 spectators will cheer the runners along the routes. The races are due to end by 1 P.M., when all the roads are scheduled to open to traffic again.
The commercially sponsored marathon kicked off earlier this year at the Health Ministry’s instructions. The event launched at 6.25 A.M. with a handcycle race followed by the full marathon, which kicked off at 6:30 A.M. After that two half-marathon runs will start, followed by three 10-kilometer runs, a children’s race and the final 1-kilometer run, which starts at 10:45 A.M.
The races started this year on Rokach Boulevard. Begin and Namir roads were closed to traffic, as well as the Rokach, Halacha and Shalom interchanges. The Ayalon highway remained open in both directions.
The following Tel Aviv roads were also closed: Rokach and its continuation Hata’arucha, Levi Eshkol, Agnon, Unitzman, Tel Aviv Port, Road 2040, the Glilot intersection, Yarkon, Herbert Samuel, Koifman, Goldman, Dizengoff, Allenby, Rothschild, Tarsat, Ben Gurion, Kaplan, Hashmonaim, Ibn Gvirol, Marmorek, Jerusalem Boulevard, Herzl, Elifelet and Ha’aliyah Hashniya (Jaffa Port).
The Tel Aviv municipality canceled classes at schools and kindergartens in the city, claiming the traffic disruptions caused by the marathon would prevent children from getting to school on time.