Seventeen thousand runners will descend on Jerusalem in three weeks for the
third annual Jerusalem Marathon, an event that is expected to pump NIS 10
million into the local economy.
Mayor Nir Barkat kicked off the countdown
to the marathon on Monday by stressing the race’s impact in bringing worldwide
recognition in the sports world to the capital.
“The marathon has
breathtaking views, clear air, a challenging route, and last year we even had
some hail on the way,” said Barkat, noting the race was ranked by the British
Women’s Running Magazine
as one of the top 10 spring races around the
City Councilor Elisha Peleg, who holds the sports portfolio,
celebrated the race’s ability to promote healthy activity. But Barkat placed the
emphasis on the draw for international runners. There are 1,600 runners coming
from 52 countries around the world, including Brazil, Croatia, Argentina, Jordan
and Turkey. This is an increase from the first marathon, which attracted less
than 1,000 international runners.
Additionally, 35 professional runners
from elite running teams will race, in addition to 3,500 soldiers from the
Israel Defense Forces. The mayor also highlighted the 5,500 runners who are
participating in the race in order to raise funds for causes ranging from the
special needs community to cancer research to lone soldiers.
In the past,
Jerusalem residents not in the marathon have expressed frustration that the race
effectively shuts down the entire city on a Friday, the busiest shopping day of
the week. However, Uri Menachem, the director of the municipality’s sports
division, said most roads in the capital will be open by 1:30 pm. He also said
that the Jerusalem Marathon holds the country’s largest pasta dinner, with 3,500
people expected for the pre-race tradition at the Jerusalem International
Convention Center the night before the event.