The first-ever Jerusalem Marathon will go ahead as planned on Friday morning
despite the terror attack that killed one woman and wounded 39 people on
Wednesday afternoon when a bag exploded next to a bus stop across the street
from the Jerusalem International Convention Center (Binyanei Ha’uma), near the
capital’s western entrance.
“Our answer to the murderous terrorists is
that we will never stop running,” Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat said at the
Marathon’s gala dinner on Wednesday night.
“Jerusalem doesn’t stop and
won’t stop. The real Jerusalem will be showcased in the marathon. A peaceful,
happy and healthy city which is more beautiful than ever.”
holiest – and maybe hilliest – city will play host to the first-ever Jerusalem
Marathon on Friday.
Over 10,000 runners from 40 countries worldwide will
step off from the Knesset at seven o’clock in the morning, ending at Sacher
Runners competing in the half-marathon, the 10- and 4.2- kilometer
races, and the 400-meter charity race for the Shalva organization begin an hour
after the full marathon.
Jerusalem has hosted a halfmarathon for the past
two decades. Mayor Barkat, a veteran of five marathons, saw advantages to
bringing the 26.2 mile (42 kilometer) race to his city after running the New
York Marathon last year.
“The marathon is an important economic driving
force for the city and will bring many runners and spectators to the capital,”
The marathon is likely to boost tourism, which has been
In 2010, Israel’s capital met 3.5 million tourists,
26 percent more than the previous year.
The Municipality of Jerusalem
announced that hotels are booked to capacity with 4,000 runners and journalists
from the international media staying locally over the weekend.
is proud to be the hosts for this truly historic event,” said Uri Menachem,
Director of the Jerusalem Sports authority.
Running in Jerusalem is about
more than just the race itself. The views of 5,000+ years of history are
“phenomenal” and “breathtaking,” according to Barkat.
The race passes
into the Old City and along its walls, Mount of Olives, Sultan’s Pool,
Ammunition Hill, and other sites.
For many runners, competing in the Holy
City has a religious aspect as well.
“Running the marathon – whose
origins lie in ancient Athens–in Jerusalem poetically symbolizes Jewish survival
in the face of Hellenism and many other cultures that have assailed it,” said
New Yorker Marshall Huebner, who is running to raise money as part of a Yad
Vashem/Blue Card joint team.
Three participants – one Jew, one Muslim,
and one Christian–in the marathon will wear shirts that read “Three religions;
For other runners, religion is what will get them through the
Friday’s race will be the twentieth marathon for Lisa Jackson.
The South African native who currently lives in London, England, runs in a
summer dress and a flamingo hat as a form of entertainment for the crowd. She
and her husband, Graham, are nervous about the course’s difficulty.
going to need some help from above,” Lisa said, pointing skyward.
not as difficult as one would expect,” Nir Barkat assured reporters at a dinner
Wednesday night, stressing that his goal is to “put Jerusalem on the
international marathon map.”
Barkat plans to run the halfmarathon this
year and hopes to run the full marathon next year, at the Second Jerusalem
International Marathon on March 16th, 2012.
There was some worry in the
wake of Wednesday’s bombing, right across the street from where a pre-race
Sports, Health and Leisure Exhibition was held.
However, Barkat and other
local government officials assured runners and reporters at the Mamilla Hotel
that the race would go on, as an indication of Israel’s resilience and
unwillingness to feel threatened by terrorists.
The mayor finished his
remarks by honoring guest of honor Rosa Mota, one of the world’s best runners in
the 20th century, and other elite runners.
Elite runners this year will
compete for the $11,500 in total prize money, to be divided between the top five
finishers, and bonuses for men breaking 2:22:00 and women breaking
There is $5,000 at stake for half-marathoners and $3,000 on the
line for those running the 10-kilometer race.
On Thursday night, runners
gathered for a pasta party, the traditional pre-marathon meal high in
carbohydrates. A portion of the dinner was held by candle-light to raise
awareness of global warming.
The marathon will be broadcast live along
the route on screens and on television by Sport 1, beginning at 6:45 a.m.