Runners from across the globe are expected in Jerusalem for its first international marathon on March 25. The run has been dubbed the  "Breathtaking Marathon" as much for the physical challenge of the hilly terrain as for the stunning sights runners will glimpse along the way.

'Breathtaking Marathon' comes to Jerusalem


Jerusalem Mayor, Nir Barkat taking part in a charity marathon last year with Kalman Samuels, of Shalva, a center for children with developmental disabilities. (Photo: Elad Sarig)

By Avigayil Kadesh

When more than 500 runners from 30 countries converge on Jerusalem on March 25 for the Jerusalem’s inaugural international marathon, they’ll be greeted warmly by Nir Barkat, the mayor and five-time marathon runner. Barkat plans to participate in the half marathon with his regular running group and then sprint over to the finish line to meet those finishing the full track.



The excitement builds

As of February 1, promotional banners are going up all over Israel – as far as Tel Aviv, which will host its own marathon on April 8 – to build excitement for the event across the country. Jerusalem’s Sacher Park will be the scene of a large public festival from the morning of the race until the runners end the route there. There will be marathon-themed merchandise for people to buy, and all Israeli sports channels will provide live coverage.

"We want to give participants an experience they won’t forget," says Menachem. "We don’t want them to forget the city or the race."

Confirming that this is meant to become an annual event, he notes that the New York City marathon began with just a few hundred runners and now attracts 50,000. "It’s a tradition. Not a lot of cities can make such a tradition, but in the City of Jerusalem we think we can."