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Winner of the Jerusalem Marathon

03/2016

Take a walk down the newly-build bicycle track in Jerusalem; the beach-front in Tel-Aviv or any other see-front town in Israel and you soon realize how long-distance running, biking and endurance sports have become a big thing in the country. While healthy-living is a sure benefactor, there is also another winner – it has become a major source of national unity and pride!

Far from the first Jerusalem marathon which I participated in, in 2006, when traffic police had to stop oncoming traffic along the route, for the motley group of runners, recent marathons have attracted thousands of participants and the city pretty much comes to a standstill on the day, with roads closed, school cancelled and if weather permits, hundreds of onlookers and supporters along the way.

Over 25,000 runners participated in last year’s Jerusalem marathon and this year, according to the Jerusalem Municipality, they are expecting more.  One of the highlights of the 10km, half marathon and full marathon routes is running through the walls of the Old City, something which Jewish people in the last 3,500 years, I’m sure, could never have imagined. Another incredible element of the race are the various teams running in support of charitable organizations.

Like the “challenging” history of Jerusalem, the hilly topography of the city provide for difficult routes but at the finishing line the energy and sense of accomplishment proves that no matter how hard, Israelis can come together and share in positive experiences beyond the daily grind.

Good luck to all participants!!

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Ronnen Harary
UJA Federation of New York
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