As runners began to descend on the capital ahead of the International Jerusalem
Winner Marathon, the city rushed to put the finishing touches on race day,
before 20,000 participants take to the streets on Friday for the full marathon,
half-marathon and 10k races.
On Thursday, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat
celebrated the marathon’s growth from 11,000 participants in the first year,
2011, to 20,000 participants this year. International runners have also
increased, from 800 two years ago to 1,700 on Friday.
Barkat tried to
highlight the non-political aspects of the city to the 80 international
journalists who arrived to cover the marathon, amid a last-minute call from the
Palestinian Authority to runners and sponsors to boycott the marathon for
“We hope you’ll be able to convey a different message
than what they normally see on the evening news – a message of peace, tolerance
and fun,” said the mayor. “We hope you’ll see a brighter picture of what this
country has to offer.”
He also personally welcomed Miss Italy 1997 –
Italian model, Paralympic athlete, politician and singer Annalisa Minetti, who
is running the full marathon. She is blind and will run attached to her longtime
“Sport is the great therapy of life, and it’s an
opportunity to demonstrate your abilities,” Minetti told The Jerusalem Post. She
said she had chosen the Jerusalem marathon because of the spiritual connection
to running in the Holy City.
“The whole time, I’ve been missing something
spiritual in my athletics,” she said.
Minetti, who excels in short
distances and won a bronze medal at the 2012 London Paralympics, remained
undeterred by Jerusalem’s notorious hills.
“When you run in faith and
love, nothing is impossible,” she said.
Those words will be helpful to
Barkat, who has decided to run his planned half-marathon despite suffering from
a broken rib last week after falling at home.
Elite Kenyan runner Amos
Matui, who won marathons in Singapore, the US state of Tennessee, and in
Casablanca, Morocco, also said he expected his faith as a Seventh Day Adventist
to carry him over the finish line.
“It’s spiritual and exciting to see
this ancient city,” he said.
“This is my first time in Jerusalem, and
it’s hillier than I expected... we hope to have a good emotional and impressive
For the first time, the race will also honor the last-place
finishers with a trophy and monetary prize. The “Determination and Persistence
Trophy” will go to the three last-place finishers, to reward them for pursuing a
The PR firm Thinking in Color, which employs many
people with disabilities, approached the Jerusalem Sport Center organization
with the idea for a last-place award.
Triathlon champion and runner Ze’ev
Neveh, 85, will present the trophies.
Twenty thousand runners are
participating in the full marathon, half marathon, 10k, and 4.2k charity fun
Roads in and around downtown Jerusalem will be closed for race day
from 6 a.m. to approximately 1 p.m.