Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat at the press conference to announce the fifth annual Jerusalem Marathon.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Less than 24 hours after tackling a knife-wielding terrorist near the capital’s City Hall, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat switched gears Monday afternoon to announce that the fifth annual international Jerusalem Winner Marathon will take place next month.
Speaking on a podium with sweeping views of the capital outside of Saint Andrew’s Scottish Guesthouse, Barkat described the March 13 event – expected to attract 25,000 runners from Israel and 55 other countries – as a “dream come true.”
“The Jerusalem marathon is breathtaking, and in this case breathtaking has a dual meaning because it’s a fabulous, beautiful race, and also challenging physically,” he said.
“Therefore, I believe that it is well positioned today as one of the leading marathons in the world; a marathon that marathon runners put on their short list.”
Describing the event as equal parts physical and spiritual, Barkat said that over 6,000 of the 25,000 athletes will be running to support various social causes as they trek around the world’s most historic and holy sites.
“This is a marathon you have to do once in your lifetime, at least to better understand the beauty of our city, and to go through a sporting event and a spiritual event like no other,” he said.
“And as important,” he continued, “it shows sanity and openness by welcoming all tourists from all over the world that would like to enjoy the holy city of Jerusalem.”
Barkat noted that the marathon will provide a welcome economic infusion to spur the capital’s anemic economy.
Indeed, according to the Tourism Ministry’s Director Ilanit Melchior, the race is expected to generate at least NIS 10 million, and has already resulted in over 12,000 booked hotel rooms throughout the city.
“The Jerusalem International marathon is a great event for the city,” said Melchior.
“It’s contributing to the economy of the city, it’s contributing to its position as a world-wide international city, and it’s contributing by positioning us as a tourism destination based around sport and other special events.”
“It’s just a great, great event,” she added.
The marathon will be divided into seven segments, including: a full marathon (42.195 km.); a half marathon (21.1 km); a 10,000-meter race; a 5,000-meter race; a new 1,700-meter family run; an 800-meter community race; and a 16-km bicycle race.
Along the route, runners will traverse historical sites, including the Knesset, the Old City, Sultan’s Pool, Mishkanot She’ananim, Mount Zion, the German Colony, Rehavia, the Armon Hanatziv Promenade, Ammunition Hill, Sacher Park, Mount Scopus, the Mount of Olives, and many other landmarks.