For the first time in 38 years, Baghdad has hosted an international marathon, with athletes from eight countries. Part of the incident-free marathon took place on a road once known as “Death Street”.

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On Friday 29 January runners from eight countries set off from Baghdad International Airport Road at the start of the city’s first marathon since 1978. The road was once referred to as “Death Street” as al-Qaeda had control over large parts of it in years past. Baghdad International Airport Road is 12 kms long and connects Baghdad Airport to the Green Zone.

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The course consisted of five competition distances: two kms, four kms, six kms, eight kms and ten kms, as well as the international marathon standard of 42 kms.

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“We hope the marathon will help improve the image of Baghdad, show Baghdad safe to the world and prove that it is able to organize international competitions,” organiser Maitham al-Hosni, Director of Media at the Iraqi Athletics Federation, told Yalla.

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Placing athletes hailed from Sudan, Morocco, Yamen, Syria and Iraq. Moroccan Hassan Tris took the tape, with Abdel-Moneim Yahia and Abdullah Trjan from Sudan following in second and third places.

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In the women’s competition, Sudanese Amina Bakhit won, Moroccan Hajir al-Hdewi came second and the Iraqi Farah Naz third.

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At boy’s youth level, Yemeni Yahia Ahmed was first and Iraqi Hussein Shabib in second place with his compatriot Muslim Basim in third place.

In the youth race for girls, Iraqis Rana Salman, Wdyan Kareem and Shukran Turki came first, second and third respectively.

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At junior levels, The Yemeni athlete Abdullah Qubani came first, and the two Iraqis Mustafa Satar and Hassan Saad came second and third.

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At junior level for girls, Syrian Lorees Izat achieved the first position, Zainab Ibrahim from Iraq came second and her compatriot Hayat Falah came third.

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At all levels prize money of $1500 was awarded to the winners in first position, the second place winners were awarded $1200, with more prize money spread amongst the top ten position finishers in each category.

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Maitham al-Hosni said that Iraqi Athletics Federation was solely responsible for the cost of organising the event which had no outside sponsorship.

“We will organise the event every year,” al-Hosni said, adding “a new distance of the 21 kms will be included next year.”