'The right to move within your own country'
Although not overtly political, for many Palestinians the race has become a powerful platform for asserting long suppressed basic rights and provides a respite from overbearing Israeli control of the city and surrounding countryside.
Saleem, from Beit Sahour, took part in the race for the second year running with his wife and baby daughter and told Ma'an he was drawn to participate by the underlying concept.
"The fact that makes this marathon different from others is that it’s a clear message of our rights as Palestinians to be able to move like everyone else. That includes me and my family, and that is why as a family we joined," he said.
"Last year my daughter was around 5 months old, now a year after we hope that the marathon itself will be part of her life as she grows up."
The attraction for international participants is also based around the simplicity of the underlying concept of the race: Palestinians must be able to move freely in their own country.
Among this year’s participants were several Danish MPs and although running in a personal capacity the message of the race was a vital draw.
"It is about the right to move within your own country, the right to work and move around, to go to school without having to go through unnecessary procedures and checkpoints," Jens Joel, a Danish Member of the Social Democrats, told Ma'an.
"I like the fact that it didn't have a fixed political platform that you have to sign up to. That something that has nothing to do with politics can still send a political signal."
The marathon is organized at every level -- from local company sponsorship to route planning -- by Palestinians, and is by all measures implemented to international standards.
George Zeidan, one of the marathon's organizers, says the race also aims to tackle issues important for a younger generation of Palestinians, such as the empowerment of women.
"The most fascinating thing is that the participation of women is beyond 40 percent, that's a record. It's an important thing for us, the marathon, and the right to movement," he told Ma'an.
Zeidan is part of a group of runners who regularly practice in the al-Makhrour area of Beit Jala, a beautiful green valley located just hundreds of meters from Israel's Gilo checkpoint in Area C.
The group has been running for over three years and the weekly sessions are a way for women to train without feeling the stare of many locals, who often attach a stigma to women running in the streets.
Bethlehem has now become a hub for running in the West Bank and the marathon has created a platform for both the city and Palestinian participants to overcome both political and personal obstacles, Zeidan says, something everybody should be proud of.
"It is about emphasizing the importance of Palestinians having the right to move, and the way we emphasize this is through running."