Running in Jerusalem

Why is this marathon different from all others?

By BENITA LEVIN
March 21, 2018 17:30
3 minute read.
Colonel A., pilot in the 20An athlete dressed as Wond07 IAF bombing of a Syrian nuclear reactor site

An athlete dressed as Wonder Woman runs in the Jerusalem Marathon on March 9. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

I’VE HAD the pleasure of watching many marathons in different parts of the world. To be clear, in most cases I’ve attended as a spectator or “cheerleader” egging on runners along the route, especially my husband and twin sister. Their respective “fun” races over the years have taken us from South Africa’s premier long-distance race, the grueling 89- km Comrades marathon in KwaZulu-Natal, to the scenic Two Oceans marathon in Cape Town, and the more recent Tiberius marathon along the beautiful Lake Kinneret in the north of Israel. As a young radio news reporter, many years ago, I even covered the Comrades race from a hot air “blimp.” I get goosebumps just thinking of the sight of thousands of runners “from above” – people of all ages tackling the famous KZN Midlands hills within the 12-hour deadline.

So, why then is the Jerusalem Marathon so special? Was it because our son took on the 10-km race for the first time, with his dad? Of course, that’s a moving sight for any proud mom, but it wasn’t just that. Was it the sight of 35,000 athletes from all parts of the world taking on the hilly course through parts of the Old City of Jerusalem, passing a range of historic landmarks on a route through 3,000 years of history? True, that is an incredible sight, but we’ve had the pleasure of coming to the marathon before, so why does this year feel different?

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