Jerusalem marathon is a long-running winner Almost two months before it is scheduled to take place, the Jerusalem Marathon is becoming a real success story, and over 800 runners from some 42 countries have already registered.What particularly warms hearts at Safra Square is that some of these participants are from countries considered marathon champions, like Brazil, South Africa and Japan – placing the capital’s marathon in line with some of the most famous in the world.The Jerusalem Marathon is considered one of the hardest to run, because its path follows some of the most breathtaking parts of the city – both figuratively, since the landscape is beautiful, and literally, since it involves climbing a lot of hills. Word at the municipality has it that within the past two years, this marathon has become one of the most important sporting events in the country and attracts runners from Europe, Asia, America and Africa – even though it runs through locations beyond the Green Line. American magazine Women’s Running has chosen the Jerusalem race as one of the 10 best marathons in the world. This year’s race is scheduled for March 1, and the city expects to host about 1,700 runners from abroad, with some 1,000 at least for the full 42-kilometer marathon. More at www.jerusalem-marathon.co.il.Barkat reaches out to Old City church leaders Mayor Nir Barkat has launched an extended tour of the churches in the Old City. Last week, Barkat paid a personal visit to the spiritual leaders of the various local church communities and wished them all a happy new year.The mayor, who is promoting his agenda of turning the slogan “One reunited city” into a reality, began making the annual visit last year, also visiting Muslim communities in the city, expressing his belief that he is mayor of all religious denominations here. The visit to the Christian community leaders in the Old City has additional importance, considering the repeated attacks these communities have suffered from yeshiva students in the Jewish Quarter.According to an official statement from the mayor’s office, this year’s visits entailed presenting prospective joint tourism projects to the church leaders.Train signals The city has received an original railroad car from British Mandate days that will be on display at the renovated Old Train Station in Baka, due to open in the spring. The car, which weighs 35 tons, is 20 meters long and holds 112 seats (on old wooden benches), is back from the Israeli Railway Museum in Haifa.The cost of the whole project – renovating the coach and moving it from Haifa to Jerusalem – was no less than NIS 700,000, a grant from the developer of the whole project, Avi Mordokh.The car itself has an impressive pedigree – made in the UK by the Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon Co. for the British Mandate’s Palestine Railways in 1921-22, it will now become one of the attractions at the old train compound. Mind the gap!Take a Universititrip Feeling an urgent need to get away from your desk at school and see what’s outside? The Rothschild Ambassadors Foundation has a suggestion: Take the Universititrip and check what other academic institutions have to offer by way of graduate programs.Bachelor’s degree students tend not to get too much information about what is available in terms of further education, the people at the foundation have discovered. The Universititrip, as its name indicates, takes students to meet representatives and hear more about what kind of further studies are available, and where – including the requirements for all the institutions and how to prepare for them. The first of these trips sets out next Thursday for academic institutions in the Tel Aviv region, soon to be followed by other groups and schools.The foundation aims to help students become society’s next leaders, through higher education and awareness of the country’s needs.A musical package from home A gala concert to benefit lone combat soldiers and provide care for the severely wounded will take place at the Henry Crown Auditorium of the Jerusalem Theater on January 17 at 8 p.m.“Attendance at the concert for A Package from Home will be an expression of support, love and esteem for our soldiers and will enable us to continue to send packages to the lone soldiers [soldiers without family in Israel] and provide respite care for the wounded,” say organizers Anita Kamien (pianist and conductor) and her husband, pianist Roger Kamien, who will be performing with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra. The concert marks the nonprofit organization’s 13th anniversary.Founder Barbara Silverman recalls how during the recent Pillar of Defense operation, she received a call informing her that there was an urgent need for supplies for the lone soldiers who were preparing to enter Gaza from the southern border.They required fleece jackets, socks, long underwear, towels, toiletries, candy and other comfort items. The response to her request for funds exceeded her best expectations, and A Package from Home delivered 2,000 packages in the following days.Since its inception during the intifada in 2000, the NGO has sent more than 180,000 packages to lone soldiers.The concert to benefit A Package from Home presents a program of works by Mendelssohn and Brahms. Purchase of tickets will enable the organization to continue sending necessities to lone soldiers and provide respite care for the wounded. Tickets range from NIS 100 to NIS 250.To order tickets, call 1-700-70-4000 on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 1-4 p.m. or e-mail email@example.com. Tickets are available from the Jerusalem Symphony Box Office has the tickets and not the Jerusalem Theatre Box Office.Greener (and more expensive) pastures The Jerusalem Park, which stretches from the north to the south of the city, is nearing completion. This week, the Jerusalem Development Authority, which is in charge of this project, approved adding NIS 40 million to the whole plan’s existing budget for 2013. This is an important development, since while the general project has been approved – and its cost is shared among the city, the JDA and the government – each of its annual budget items requires approval to ensure that the work is not halted for financial reasons.The park, which will be the largest in the city, spans some 15,000 acres, and the plans for it include several “green fingers” that go inside the neighborhoods on the seam between constructed areas and nature, as well as 42 km. of bicycle paths and several leisure and sports facilities.Local weather patriotism Now that winter has come to Jerusalem in force, residents can keep track of it via the city’s local weather station. Accessible on the web at www.02ws.com/station.php?&lang, the Jerusalem Weather Forecast Station includes sounds of the rain hitting your windows and the wind howling.