40,000 Runners Take to the Streets of Tel Aviv for Annual Marathon

Kenyan William Kiprono Yegon wins marathon for second year in a row.

Israeli runners participate in the Tel Aviv marathon, Friday, Feb. 26, 2016.
AP

Kenyan runner William Kiprono Yegon won the Tel Aviv marathon on Friday with a time of 2:10:51, his second win a row. He joined some 40,000 runners who particiapted in the event which began Friday morning.

Kenyan runner William Kiprono Yegon passes the finish line of Tel Aviv's marathon, winging for the second year in a row. February 26, 2016.
Ronen Toppelberg

The full marathon took off at 7 a.m. in northern Tel Aviv with 2,500 runners, among them hundreds of foreigners who came to Israel to participate in the event. In addition to the 42-kilometer race, half marathons, 10-kiloemter and five-kilometer runs will also take place, as well as a handbikes race.

The Tel Aviv marathon has made headlines in recent years for its many casualties. In 2011, 40-year-old David Shlomovitz from Jerusalem died while running a half-marathon. In 2013, 29-year-old Michael Michaelovich from Moshav Menuha in the south collapsed and died while running the half marathon. Dozens of other runners required medical treatment, mostly due to the heavy heat at the time.

After Michaelovich's death, the Health Ministry established a professional committee that recommended cancelling mass sport events if temperatures climb over 28°C. That same year, the Tel Aviv municipality decided to bring the marathon forward to the last Friday in February to minimize the chance of high temperatures that would endanger participants.

AFP

Despite this, in 2014 dozens of runners also required treatment, some of them for heatstroke. Last year, the marathon was stopped in the middle because of a heat wave. Before it was stopped, Magen David Adom teams treated 90 runners. Three were badly hurt due to heatstroke.  

Following Shlomovitz's death, the Magistrate's Court ordered the Tel Aviv municipality and the producers of the marathon to condition participation in the marathon on presenting medical approval. The municipality appealed the ruling, and two months ago the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court annulled the decision. The judges ruled that it would be enough for participants to sign a health declaration.