by: Ilse Strauss
Thursday, 14 March 2019 | According to seasoned marathon runners, the Jerusalem Marathon can be quite the uphill battle—literally and figuratively. In fact, since the first official race in 2011, it has gained the reputation as one of the world’s toughest marathons. Still, it is a fascinating course. Its track winds through a landscape that has witnessed some of the world’s most significant events and traces the landmarks that showcase Jerusalem’s 3,000 years of history. It is this context—combined with the City of Gold’s sheer beauty—that attracts thousands of runners every year.
This year is no different. Tomorrow morning, over 40,000 runners are expected to set out for the 9th annual Jerusalem Marathon. Enrollment for this year’s race shows an uptick in international participants, with a record number of 4,600 entrants coming to run through the streets of Jerusalem from beyond the Promised Land’s borders. They hail from 80 countries: from America to Australia, South Africa to Sweden and everywhere else in between.
To make the international runners feel at home, the flag of each country of origin flutters proudly next to the Knesset (Israeli parliament building). “In the past 24 hours, 80 flags from the 80 countries from which the runners have come to run have been raised on the streets of Jerusalem,” the City of Gold Mayor Moshe Lion told Ynetnews.
Hosted to coincide with the arrival of spring in Israel’s capital, landmarks dotting the race course take runners on a journey through time.
The race begins at the Knesset, then winds past the shuk, Jerusalem’s popular outdoor market. During the first part of the race, runners experience the modern side of Jerusalem with luxury hotels and shopping malls. The course continues to the historical architecture and narrow alleyways in the Old City. Landmarks include the Tower of David, Via Dolorosa and a glimpse of the Western Wall. Before reaching the finishing line in Sacher Park, runners also experience the City of David, the Mount of Olives, the Sultan’s Pool and the Armon HaNatziv promenade with its spectacular panorama of Jerusalem.
“It’s not just a sporting event, it’s a spiritual event,” explained former Jerusalem Mayor, Nir Barkat. “We’re in the holy city of Jerusalem, running where kings and prophets walked, where the Bible happened.”
The race has six categories. They include full and half marathons for professional athletes and experienced runners taking on the grueling 42 kilometer (26 mi) and 21 kilometer (13 mi) tracks. There are also 10 kilometer (6.2 mi) and 5 kilometer (3 mi) races, a 1.7 kilometer (1 mi) family fun run and an 800 meter (0.5 mi) community race.
Race day fills the streets of the City of Gold with exuberance and joy. The excitement is not only reserved for runners. Tens of thousands of Jerusalemites pack the sidewalks to cheer on participants with shouts of kol hakavod (well done!). City parks and public squares also feature a variety of live music and other fun activities for the whole family.
A dedicated team of 18 Bridges for Peace volunteers will participate in tomorrow’s race. They run specifically to bless Israel by raising support for victims of terror in the land. You can help us reach out with God’s unfailing love to those whose lives have been irrevocably changed by terrorism. Our team aims to raise $20,000. These funds are earmarked to help Israel’s children victimized by horror and hatred overcome their trauma and live normal, productive lives. For more information, visit https://www.bridgesforpeace.com/compassion/jerusalem-marathon/.
Posted on March 14, 2019
Source: (Bridges for Peace, March 14, 2019)
Photo Credit: Bridges for Peace
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