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Gaza marathon draws hundreds in rainy weather

Associated Press

KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip (AP) – Some 2,200 school children and 300 adults ran a relay race Thursday traversing the Gaza Strip north to south, roughly the distance of an Olympic marathon, to raise money for U.N. summer camps.

The race, sponsored by the U.N. aid agency for Gaza refugees, was held in rainy and unusually cold weather. The children ran segments of one kilometer (0.6 miles), while some of the adults ran full marathons, said Adnan Abu Hassna, a spokesman for the U.N. agency.

It was Gaza’s second marathon in two years. Last year’s winner, Nader al-Masri, won again this year, but due to the bad weather crossed the finish line in 3 hours and 20 minutes, a full hour more than last year’s result, Abu Hassna said. Runners from France and the U.S. also participated, he said.

Gaza is an isolated coastal strip of 1.7 million Palestinians who have been ruled by the Islamic militant Hamas since the group’s violent takeover in 2007. Israel and Egypt enforced a border blockade after the takeover, but have eased restrictions in the past year.

Abu Hassna said the race was an opportunity to highlight the difficulties of life in Gaza and raise money for the U.N. aid agency’s summer camps. The aid agency provides services to hundreds of thousands of Gazans.

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