Rome road race to commemorate the Holocaust

Road race passing sites of Holocaust and Jewish remembrance in Rome to highlight Italy events International Holocaust Memorial Day.

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A road race passing sites of Holocaust and Jewish remembrance in Rome will highlight events in Italy marking International Holocaust Memorial Day.

The "Run for Mem" -- short for Run for Remembrance: Looking Ahead -- is scheduled for Jan. 22, five days before the observance of International Holocaust Memorial Day marking the anniversary of the 1945 liberation of Auschwitz. In some countries, including Italy, events take place in the days or even weeks surrounding the Jan. 27 date.

Sponsored by Italy's main Jewish organizations, The Run for Mem will start and end in Rome’s historic Jewish ghetto, in a square now named for the deportation of Roman Jews to Auschwitz on Oct. 16, 1943. Billed as Europe's first sport race past sites meant “to commemorate the Shoah and determine future direction,” the event has two routes – 10 kilometers for athletes, 3.5K for the general public. Both take participants past sites related to the Holocaust.

Participants will be encouraged to stop, read commemorative plaques and light candles. They will also meet with Shaul Ladany, an Israeli Holocaust survivor and champion race walker who survived the attack on Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972.

Organized by the umbrella Union of Italian Jewish Communities, or UCEI, under the auspices of the government and in collaboration with the Rome Marathon and the Maccabi Italia Association, the event is supported by or partnered with more than two dozen other Jewish, civic, governmental and sports bodies and will be featured on national television.

“Sport as a means of coming together is a way to affirm life and dialogue,” UCEI President Noemi Di Segni told a news conference Monday.

Other initiatives around the country to mark Holocaust Memorial Day include exhibitions, cultural and educational events, and commemorative ceremonies.