Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat announced on Tuesday that he will run in the New York City Marathon on November 1, while on a North American tour.
According to a press release announcing the mayor's participation in the race, Barkat, who turned 50 on Monday, will run with the goal of raising awareness of Jerusalem as the world's top destination for tourists and pilgrims.
More than a dozen of the mayor's friends from around Israel will join him for the 42.195-kilometer race, in a show of solidarity with Jerusalem.
Barkat has a long history of supporting athletics, and has run marathons in Berlin, Paris and Israel in recent years with his friends. The former paratrooper major has also taken part in jeep races throughout Europe and Africa, including in the Paris to Dakar Rally.
In Jerusalem, Barkat has invested resources in professional sports, sporting groups for young people, and the construction of a world-class Jerusalem Arena, which will be the future location of sports events, international conferences and concerts.
As far as his preparedness for the race, Barkat's staff said he runs the 5 km. from his home to city hall several times each week. His participation in the marathon will be part of a working tour throughout the United States and Canada.
"I am excited to be running in this year's ING New York City Marathon," Barkat said on Tuesday. "In Jerusalem, we are focused on returning Jerusalem to its historic role as an international destination site for tourists and pilgrims - a task similar to running a marathon. I will be as committed and focused on my mission throughout the marathon as I am in my mission in Jerusalem. Jerusalem and New York City have a special relationship and I look forward to engaging with our friends in New York City again while there."
"We welcome Mayor Barkat to the ING New York City Marathon, an event that defines the spirit and energy of New York," said Mary Wittenberg, the president and CEO of New York Road Runners, a group dedicated to promoting distance running, and one of the organizers of the marathon.
"The city is alive on marathon day as New Yorkers come together in neighborhoods across the five boroughs to celebrate passion, achievement and dedication. This race is unlike any other, and we wish the mayor all the best."