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TA marathon called off for fear of second heat wave

Expected high temps lead city to avert risks after fatality in last week’s half-marathon

Runners take part in the Tel Aviv half marathon on Friday (photo credit: courtesy of Jonathan Fisch)
Runners take part in the Tel Aviv half marathon on Friday (photo credit: courtesy of Jonathan Fisch)

Several days after a runner collapsed and died during Tel Aviv’s half marathon, the city decided to call off its annual full marathon, which, having been postponed from last week, had been scheduled for this Friday.

The municipality has come under heavy criticism since Michael Michaelovitch died and 20 other runners were hospitalized on Friday during the 21-kilometer race, which was run under 34 degrees Celsius (93.2 Fahrenheit) temperatures, with 35% humidity.

Some 80 runners were treated on site during the race last Friday.

The full marathon was also scheduled for last Friday, but was postponed by the heat wave. The city said Monday it decided to cancel the full marathon altogether after the Health Ministry advised there could be another heat wave on Friday. Temperatures that day are expected to rise to 27 Celsius (81 Fahrenheit) in Tel Aviv.

The municipality said registered runners will be reimbursed their entrance fees. Some 35,000 people were expected to take part in the race.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, the municipality expressed sorrow for the death and said an investigation would be launched, but noted that the municipality acted “according to the guidelines of the Health Ministry and Ichilov Hospital [Sourasky Medical Center], which instructed us to cancel the full marathon and proceed with the half marathon as scheduled.”

Michaelovitch’s family has accused the city of negligence in allowing the half-marathon to go forward.

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