The festivities for the 4th annual Jerusalem Marathon kicked off on Monday with a midday media soirée in the capital’s brand-new Cinema City.

More than 100 members of the press were on hand to hear the specifics of this year’s edition of the 42.2-kilometer signature competition as well as comments from Mayor Nir Barkat and other affiliated dignitaries.

“When I decided to stage an international marathon in Jerusalem almost five years ago, I never could have imagined how successful it would be,” exclaimed Barkat. “It has exceeded all my expectations. It has become that largest marathon in Israel and one of the biggest sporting events of the year throughout the country.”

While the actual race day – including full- and half-marathons, 10k and 5k “jaunts” and even an 800-meter community run – is still 10 days away, on Friday, March 21, the buildup for the events is already in full gear.

To help increase the city-wide hype, the finish line was erected this week on Ben Zvi Boulevard, while posters and other marathon signage are already ever-present in pretty much all of Jerusalem’s neighborhoods.

More than 25,000 total participants – including a team from The Jerusalem Post – are expected to take part in the marathon, with an also-record 2,400 athletes traveling to Israel from more than 54 countries to compete in the prestigious run.

“The marathon is a tremendous opportunity to cast a positive light on Israel and on the city of Jerusalem,” noted Barkat, who himself has taken part in five marathons and is planning on running the half-marathon this year. “A sporting production of this magnitude gains recognition for our city on global scale in a way not usually seen. I hope to see you all at the starting line and at the finish line.”

In addition to the sports and cultural value of the marathon, Barkat and the other speakers – which included Director of the Jerusalem Sports Authority Uri Menachem and representatives from the Ministry of Tourism and title-sponsor Winner – focused as well on the financial impact the week of events is expected to have on the Israeli capital.

There are more than 10,000 nights of hotel rooms booked throughout the city, and projected total revenue infusion of over 10.5 million shekels in tourism, between accommodation, restaurants, cultural institutions and sites, transportation and more.

“People that run this marathon always tell me that it’s not just about the running, but about the surrounding atmosphere, the ability to really enjoy their time in Jerusalem,” explained Barkat. “We have seen how this endeavor truly brings even more tourism to our city.

That ultimately translates well economically for all our residents.”

The route of this year’s race will take runners across many of Jerusalem’s spectacular and historically significant sites, from the Knesset, to the Old City, the Sultan’s Pool, Mount Zion, the Tayelet, Ammunition Hill, Mount Scopus, Mount of Olives, Sacher Park, among many others.

“My favorite part of the race – actually there are two elements – are 1) when we start to glimpse the walls of the Old City from Mamilla, and 2) running along the Tayelet in Armon Hanetziv with the magnificent views of the valley below,” Barkat told the Post.

“This marathon really is a breathtaking experience, in every sense of the word.”

For more information about the marathon, including traffic changes and all events related to the race, please visit www.jerusalem- marathon.co.il

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