Tamirat Tola and Hellen Obiri Win New York City Marathon


Tamirat Tola and Hellen Obiri Win New York City Marathon

Yaniv Zaguri planned to run the marathon in a shirt reading “Never Forget,” with the date of the Hamas attack on Israel inscribed below.Credit…Natalie Keyssar for The New York Times

Yaniv Zaguri, an Israeli athlete, was so tired from a 22-mile run that was part of his training for the New York City Marathon that he decided to skip an early morning run with his club, the Sderot Front Runners, on Oct. 7.

The group of friends often ran through Be’eri, Re’im and other Israeli kibbutzim adjacent to the Gaza Strip. Of the three who went on the run that day, Zaguri said, two were killed in the terrorist attack carried out by Hamas.

“You could say that the New York marathon saved me,” he said in an interview.

The sole survivor, Ram Hayun, wrote in an account posted on an Israeli blog dedicated to running that he and the other two runners scrambled to hide when Hamas gunmen passed by — first behind a tree, then a concrete block and then under a protruding pipe. They covered themselves in leaves in an attempt to conceal their brightly colored running gear.

Israeli soldiers eventually reached them, Hayun wrote, but Hamas gunmen ambushed the group, killing the other two runners, Neomi Shitrit Azulai and Kobi Periente.

Two more members of the club were also killed that day, Zaguri said.

In the weeks after the attack, the group of Israelis he was originally supposed to run the marathon with canceled, too deep in mourning. Some had been called up to the military reserves.

But Zaguri decided that it was important for him to go through with the race.

“I felt that if I didn’t run,” he said, “then I would be surrendering to Hamas.”

On Saturday morning, Zaguri took part in “Run for Their Lives,” an organized run in Central Park in honor of the Israelis who Hamas took hostage.

He said he would be running the marathon in a shirt that says “Never Forget,” with the date of the attack inscribed below.

On Sunday, as the marathon got underway, a group gathered near Columbus Circle to raise awareness of the hostages. Hours later, as a marathoner wearing the Israeli flag like a cape ran by, they cheered him on.

“Bring them home!” the group chanted as the other runners passed.

Elsewhere along the route, other spectators, too, held posters with photographs of the hostages.

Shany Granot-Lubaton, a leader of the Hostages and Missing Families Forum in New York, noted that it had been four weeks since the hostages were abducted, and that she hoped the global stage the marathon provides would help bring attention to the cause.

“We just want everyone to understand that time is running out,” she said.

Jennie Coughlin contributed reporting.



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