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Beirut marathon takes off amid high security December 6, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Sports.

Runners took to the streets of Beirut amid high security Sunday for Lebanon’s annual marathon, which went ahead despite an open-ended protest led by the Shiite militant group Hezbollah.

Streets were lined with gun-toting soldiers and armored vehicles as the Lebanese army and police deployed en masse to assure security for the event.

The marathon, with the slogan “Run For Lebanon, Run For Life,” kicked off under a flurry of balloons and some runners wearing Red Cross T-shirts carried a sign that read “Peace.”

More than 20,000 people had entered either the marathon or the accompanying 10- kilometer (6.2 mile) event, which was to take place November 26, but was postponed after the assassination of anti-Syrian industry minister Pierre Gemayel five days earlier.

Marathon director Mark Dickinson said Saturday the route of the course had been “slightly modified” due to the opposition protest.

After a mass rally of hundreds of thousands of people Friday, thousands of protesters began camping Friday near government offices in downtown Beirut to call for the resignation of the Western-backed government.

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