The Jerusalem Marathon was run Monday, March 16:
The marathon courses were especially selected to recount Jerusalem’s 3000-year historical narrative since the beginning of its existence. The Jerusalem Winner Marathon is a spectacular one which challenges the runners while exposing them to magnificent views and Jerusalem’s unique culture.*
For a first hand experience of the the marathon, check out Shut Up + Run. Beth got to run in the race this year, and had a fabulous time.
When thinking about the Middle East, and the expansion of running in the area, I thought I would re-visit this blog post I wrote last year:
Sometimes we get caught in our own problems and forget how good our lives are and how much freedom we really have. Right now just getting to work is a challenge in a half-dozen countries, including Ukraine, Iraq and Israel. Trying to sleep in Gaza right now must be all but impossible. We look at the Middle East and see conflict, upheaval and terror. But do we see the people who are just trying to live in their own country? Do we think about parents that must be terrified to send their children to school, not knowing what might happen that day?
I can’t even imagine it.
But sometimes someone comes along and is brave enough to change things. There is a young woman in the West Bank who decided to run out on the roads. No one runs outside a gym in Palestine. For good reason. The farthest run she could go on was 2K or 5K. Beyond that there were walls or she would have to cross Israeli check points, which include metal detectors, and the need for id. And lines. That will ruin a good run. There is a route from her house for a 10k, but that was too busy to run safely.
Her name is Jacky Alarja. She started a running club with friends after hearing that a marathon was being thought of in Bethlehem. The marathon came alive, although they had to loop the city twice to make it long enough. Jacky joined 650 other runners as they ran a 10k, half-marathon, or the full marathon. She ran the half-marathon, and plans on running the full this year.
“The race is important to me. When I meet foreigners, they associate Palestinians with violence. The race shows that we are normal people living normal lives.” — Jacky Alarja**
As we struggle with work and family and bemoan the lack of time we have to run, we need to think about Jacky and realize that if we truly want to get out there, we can. And how lucky we are that we can.
Jacky’s favorite run is 2.5k to a winery, where she touches the gate and turns back. What’s your favorite run?
** Sept 2014 issue of Runner’s World