Running down our dreams

We all have our own personal marathons, those larger-than life goals that we know if we really set our mind and heart to, we could somehow accomplish.

By URIEL STURM
March 12, 2015 21:39
marathon

Tel Aviv marathon 2015. (photo credit: POLICE SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

 
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Inspiration is an elusive sentiment, the formula for which is difficult to pinpoint or to artificially manufacture.

However, to actually be inspired is up there with love, hate and grief as perhaps the most powerful of emotions in the vast range of the human condition.

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For those paying attention – and with the local logistical disruptions that come part and parcel, it would be difficult not to – the Jerusalem Marathon may very well be the most inspiring event that takes place this year in the capital.

Yes, there is the financial benefit in hosting a marathon, with thousands of people flooding into the city providing an infusion to the municipal economy in a variety of ways that is estimated to approach $10 million.

There is also an extremely positive sociocultural aspect to this larger-than-life extravaganza in that it brings together myriad members of society with vastly different backgrounds and lifestyles to work toward a common goal.

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As Mayor Nir Barkat touts, “The marathon is a great opportunity to cast a positive light on the city of Jerusalem.



It gains recognition on a global scale and it puts Israel on the international map in a way not usually seen.”

While all this is definitely the case, the most extraordinary and impressive achievement of the marathon is the fire it lights in the hearts of the all those involved, runners, organizers and spectators alike.

One of the great things about life is that we are challenged every single day – whether by professional decisions, finances, family issues or health, to name a few. Win or lose these challenges, we can aim to maintain a mindset to face them with courage, even when we are not sure where we will find it.

Anyone who has ever run a long distance will attest that, more than just an athletic endeavor of the body, it requires a state of mind; a state of mind that says anything is possible.

When most of us think of the magnitude of running a full marathon – 42.2 kilometers, 26.1 miles, roughly from the edge of Jerusalem to Ben-Gurion Airport – we immediately dismiss it as ridiculously hopeless.

And yet, on Friday the streets of the capital will be packed with men and women of all ages, shapes and sizes undertaking exactly that... and succeeding splendidly! Among the more than 25,000 participants in this year’s marathon are roughly 7,000 people who will be running to raise money for nonprofit organizations.

The largest such group is Team SHALVA, featuring 1,000 runners (more than 300 from abroad) representing the Association for Mentally and Physically Challenged Children in Israel.

Team SHALVA is privileged to be joined by Israeli Paralympic swimmer Keren Leibovitch, whose key message is that, only through stumbling and then picking yourself up and continuing while pushing yourself to your limits, can your reach your potential.

This notion ties in perfectly with the overarching value of a marathon, which is ultimately about the will to succeed and conquer challenges, concepts which have serious big-picture implications for life as a whole.

While the idea of a definitive “starting line” and “finish line” rarely exists in the winding- path journey that is life, the ability to set goals and then strive to accomplish them is at the heart of the human pursuit.

Among the 161 runners taking part on behalf of OneFamily, Israel’s leading national organization rebuilding the lives of injured and bereaved victims of terrorism and war, will be Aharon Karov, who as a newlywed commander of 30 soldiers in Operation Cast Lead in 2008 was left critically injured when a booby trap was tripped in a sweep of buildings.

Karov is taking on the challenge after recovering from the blast which left him close to death with eight pieces of shrapnel in his head, all his teeth knocked out, his nose dislodged, his left eye gone, and his stomach and upper left side of his body crushed.

He is running for the organization which helped him and his family cope with the emotional ordeal.

Imagination is a form of courage – the power to dream big and believe in your ability to fulfill such dreams. At its essence, a marathon is about finding that inner strength, something more when you think there is no more to give, and overcoming the urge to quit.

American Olympic marathon medalist Meb Keflezighi notes that “like the marathon, life can sometimes be difficult, challenging and present obstacles, however if you believe in your dreams and never ever give up, things can turn out for the best.”

Whether running or spectating, a marathon can be an emotional, even spiritual, experience.

Witnessing crowds cheering for people they don’t know, feeling the electricity in the air, seeing the range of profound expressions on the faces of participants as they finish the race and being humbled by the genuine surge of courage and determination all help define the victory of the human spirit that is on full display.

However, it is the “marathon as a metaphor” impression that resonates most powerfully.

We all have our own personal marathons, those larger-than life goals just out of our immediate reach, but that we know, if we really set our mind and heart to it, we could somehow accomplish.

So enjoy the revelry, the drama, the competition and the camaraderie that encompasses the marathon. But most important, soak up the inspiration and dare yourselves to dream of the impossible.

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