The Jerusalem Marathon: A Magical Experience

The Jerusalem Marathon: A Magical Experience

By Steve Zerobnick

Have you ever dreamed of running a marathon? A Half Marathon? 10 Kilometers? In NYC, Boston? Paris? Athens? How about Jerusalem?

Jerusalem: Holy City of 3 Religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Capital of the modern State of Israel. A city founded 3,000 years ago by King David. Besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times, according to Wikipedia.

The Jerusalem Marathon has emerged as one of the leading marathons in the world. This year it attracted over 27,000 participants from Israel and around the world.

The routes are stunning, passing within the 500 year old walls of the Old City, going by the Knesset (Israel’s Parliament), Supreme Court, the President’s Residence, the Israel Museum, the Monastery of the Cross, Sultan’s Pool,¬†Jerusalem’s First Train Station, the Haas Promenade and circumventing the two campuses of the Hebrew University.

It’s not an easy marathon: Jerusalem’s hills present quite a challenge to runners who train in flatter locales. The famed Hills of Judea make each of the routes a unique experience.

Having run the Jerusalem Half Marathon eight times I took a break this year and ran the 10 km. option. The event was magical from the beginning. Runners, young and old, gathered on the street outside of the Knesset as Mayor Nir Barkat (who had already completed the Half Marathon route) sent off our heat of runners along a tightly organized and well run route through the streets of Jerusalem.

Steve Zerobnick and his son running the Jerusalem Marathon
Steve Zerobnick and his son running the Jerusalem Marathon

The atmosphere was electric and the weather could not have been better: cool, dry and clear. Water, GU and Energy Drinks were distributed at strategically important points along the routes and showers of water spray cooled off runners who chose to go through them.

My 26 year old son (who had run the Tel Aviv Half Marathon two weeks before) and had run a 5 km route in memory of a friend’s brother earlier that day, joined me on the second half of the run right before the challenging climb up Jabotinsky Street. Being a Jerusalemite, I could not help but run into hundreds of friends, colleagues and other acquaintances, who were both running and watching.

As I ran I could not get the words of the Biblical Prophet Zecharia out of my head:

Thus saith the LORD of hosts: There shall once again sit old men and old women in the broad places of Jerusalem, every man with his staff in his hand… And the broad places of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the broad places thereof. (Zecharia 8:4)

Who would have thought that women and men in their sixties, seventies and eighties would be running (without staffs and canes!) in a marathon through the streets of the city where Zecharia lived 2,500 years ago, along with children, adolescents and soldiers of a new-born Jewish state?

At Sacher Park at the Marathon’s end I met up with several Keshet colleagues who had run the 10 km, half and full marathon routes. All of us felt the incredibly special atmosphere of the event. We began talking and concluded that Keshet: The Center for Educational Tourism in Israel and InnovatioNation, should organize a tour around next year’s Jerusalem Marathon for people who are interested in running and who are looking for a unique way of visiting Israel.

Keep your eyes on this blog for an announcement about the event or add your name here if you would like us to send you details about the Keshet InnovatioNation: Marathon 2015 – Running and Touring Experience.

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