Crossing the finish line two hours and sixteen minutes after starting, Kenyan Ronald Kimeli Kurgat became the fastest ever person to run the Jerusalem Marathon Friday.
Kurgat finished at 2:16:06, setting a new course record and beating last year’s winner — and former record setter – Ethiopian Abraham Kabeto Katale by nearly four minutes.
Katale finished the course at 2:16:29 in 2013.
Over 25,000 runners participated in the city’s fourth annual marathon, half marathon, 10k, 5k and 800-meter runs.
On the women’s side, Ethiopian Alemtsehay Mesfin Demse won with a time of 2:47:21.
Kenyan Patrick Wachira Muriuki took second place for the men, with a time of 2:16:32. On the women’s side, Lemelem Berha Yachem was the first runner up, finishing at 2:47:25.
Weather for the event was warm and sunny. One person was hospitalized in serious condition after suffering heat stroke.
The race shut down roads and schools across the city. Streets began reopening in the early afternoon.
Some 26,000 people participated in the event, including 2,460 foreign runner from 54 countries, according to the city.
During the run, a group of protesters burst onto the course near Sheikh Jarrah and began running alongside participants while waving Palestinian flags and signs, according to a Times of Israel reporter who participated in the marathon. The group was stopped by Border Police officers.
Aside from the political situation, the city’s hilly terrain make running there a challenge, locals say, a fact which has raised the profile of the annual marathon.
“It’s by far the hardest in Israel and one of the hardest in the world,” said Guy Gordon, a local Jerusalem marathon runner. “In marathon tourism, there’s the bucket list of the classic five and a few wild cards, and Jerusalem has become one of the wild cards.”
Lazar Berman and Jessica Steinberg contributed to this report.