Jerusalem Marathon thrills and inspires runners and spectators alike

Jerusalem Marathon runners run past the Jerusalem's Old City walls, March 15th, 2019 (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Jerusalem Marathon runners run past the Jerusalem's Old City walls, March 15th, 2019
The streets of Israel’s capital were overflowing on Friday morning as the annual Jerusalem Winner Marathon was held for the ninth time.
Approximately 40,000 runners from 80 countries around the world ran a breathtaking route, passing through the Old City walls, the Sultan's Pool, Mishkenot Sha'ananim, Mount Zion, the German Colony, Rehavia, the Armon Hanatziv Promenade, Ammunition Hill, Mount Scopus, Mount of Olives and other sites.
Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon noted that "The Jerusalem Winner Marathon is a national sports event that attracts not only families and athletes from Israel, but also attracts foreign tourism, and thousands of tourists from 80 countries come to experience the marathon as a sporting challenge and a global tourist destination."
Friday’s events included six races: a full-marathon race (42.195 kilometers), a half-marathon race (21.1 km), a 10 km race, a 5km race and a family race of 1.7 km.
There was also an 800-meter event for special-needs athletes, and about 6,000 runners participated in the various races on behalf of different social and charity organizations, such as Team Shalva, Team OneFamilyFund, Camp Kobi and Bnei Akiva.
The overall winner of the marathon was 33-year-old Ronald Kimeli Kurgat from Kenya, who clocked in at 2:18:47 hours. The runner up was Kipkogey Shadrack, 28, also from Kenya, with a time of 2:19:07, while third place went to Chesoo Jonathan Kipchirchir from – you guessed it – Kenya, 31, who finished the course in 2:22:07.
Among the women, Kimaiyo Nancy Chepngetich of Kenya, 35, took the the top spot, in 2:44:50, while in second place was Too Mercy Jelimo of Kenya, 37, at 2:54:00. In third place was Jepngetich Naomi of Kenya, 39, with a time of 2:58:00.
The first Israeli to finish the full marathon was Adam Mubarak, 30, at 2:40:58. The first Israeli women to finish main even was Hila Gelman, 40, in 3:33:00.
Israeli-American haredi mother of five Beatie Deutsch – participating as part of Team #BeitDaniella – ran the half-marathon in 1:21.46 to finish second overall among women, setting an Israeli record on the half-marathon Jerusalem course. She also took part in the family race with her children.
Deutsch spoke with the Jerusalem Post about her experience.
“Today was really an amazing day,” said Deutsch. “There is such an incredible energy and atmosphere in Jerusalem. I take part in many competitive races, but this one is really the most special. The highlight of my day was definitely the family race with my kids. Overall I am really happy with how everything went, and now I just have to rush to get my family ready for Shabbos.”
 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 all 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 $20 million.
There is also an extremely positive socio-cultural aspect of this larger-than-life extravaganza in that it brings together myriad members of society with vastly different backgrounds and lifestyles to participate in one common goal.
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 extremely emotional 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 on full display.
“I can’t even imagine how exhilarating it is to actually run in one of the races,” said spectator Dina Frankel. “I am so excited to even be watching all these people run.”
The many international participants, many of whom travelled to Israel specifically for the marathon, were among the most thrilled among the thousands of racers.
George Somogyi, who flew from Paris to participate in the half-marathon, was elated with the event.
“All long-distance races are a real physical experience, but the Jerusalem Marathon is so much more of an emotional, and even spiritual, experience, something that is truly unparalleled,” he told the Post.
All in all, everyone who took part in any aspect of Friday’s events certainly enjoyed the revelry, the drama, the competition and the camaraderie that encompasses the marathon. But most importantly, it seemed as if everyone was there to soak up the inspiration and dare themselves to dream, and with that it mind, the Jerusalem Marathon was once again a smashing success.