As with every adventure there is so much I want to share and only so much you’ll actually care about reading. While I’ll be doing another post about the rest of the trip, the race details needed to go up while still fresh in my mind, plus they’re what you want to know first!
Since you’ll be seeing their faces a lot, let me introduce the wonderful group I’m traveling with thanks to Vibe Israel:
Adam Chase – a fellow Coloradoian who I actually met on the Timex trip to Hawaii (orange on the left)
Rachele Brooke Smith – Black on the left
Dai Manuel – Grey shirt gent on the left
Paula Butragueño -Black on the right
Me – pink right up the middle
More folks in this shot, but you’ll hear about them later!
Unlike most destination races, we were being treated like VIPS, which was way more than skipping lines. We spent the morning doing a shakeout run with the Mayor of Jerusalem and the elite runners (aka the Kenyans).
Yup…just us…and them! And of course being bloggers, we got them to attempt a jumping photo after we finished the run…too cool!Of course we also dashed through the expo to checkout the goods and it was a pretty impressive show. They had a good set up to welcome the 26,000 runners who would be doing the 5, 10k, half and full on Friday. For you non-Jewish folk like me, the race is on Friday morning due to Shabbat:
The Sabbath is commanded by God. Every week religious Jews observe the Sabbath, the Jewish holy day, and keep its laws and customs. The Sabbath begins at nightfall on Friday and lasts until nightfall on Saturday.
The Jerusalem half marathon morning came early as we left the hotel at 5AM due to street closures. We could have walked a mile or so to the start line and that would likely be my personal choice and recommendation for anyone else (get all the sleep you can!).
We met up with some amazing Israeli influencers this week who joined us for the race. In particular, I was psyched to meet the group from Roco Runs, whom I’ve been following on Instagram for ages. Luckily we had access to the VIP tent for the coffee drinkers to survive the run and soon enough it was a mad dash to the start as we got a bit caught up with photos.
We started as a group, but being literally in the VERY back of the starting area as we missed the actual start, we split in to smaller groups right away. As you work your way through the coral area, runners pass through 3 or 4 different small security checks (no bandits in this race).Which makes sense, people are concerned about security and they were on top of making everything feel safe.
Adam and I ended up running the race together at a nice comfy pace which allowed us to just take in the sites, not struggle on the many…many hills and cross at just under 2 hours (probably his slowest race ever, but we had fun).
Apparently we arrived during the one week of winter they experience each year. Normally it’s warm to even hot for some of the races, but our first few days in Jerusalem have been cool, super winder and a little rainy. Which ended up making for the perfect race day as it started about 45 degrees and only finished around 50, but today we had no rain and no wind! I was hoping to catch up with fellow blogging friend Monica who was there for the race with a different press group. However, she was doing the full marathon which started at 7:00Am instead of alongside the half at 6:45.
Here’s what you really need to know about the Jerusalem Half Marathon utilizing my standard love of PRO and CON lists!
- You run through the Old City’s ramparts which is a must see site anyhow, but very cool this way
- You have some spectacular vistas looking out over the city to the gleaming Dome of the Rock and so much more
- You’ll be running a lot through the neighborhoods of Jerusalem, but unlike the US here it still looks like history at every turn
- There’s not a huge crowd support, but fun stuff like bands and people on stilts
- 26,000 runners means you’re never alone
- Plenty of great nearby hotels
- Experiencing a totally new race with the start in Hebrew and running in KM
- Pretty good race medal, so so on the race shirt
- Plenty of water stops (though I didn’t see much electrolyte type drink)
- There are a A LOT of hills
- There are NOT a lot of port o potties
- It can feel crowded on some of the smaller streets if like us you’re in the back and trying to move up
- Post race food if not VIP was oranges and apples (The marathoners got more)
- Probably not a good marathon for spectating, it would be hard to see a runner in multiple spots
- To give you an idea of how hard the course is, the winners finishing times are nearly 10 minutes slower than they would be in other marathons.
Here’s a super quick peek of the race from some video I shot while running…which means it’s the best quality EVER!
The most common questions I’ve heard so far…
1. No I never felt unsafe
2. Yes, you do see guards with guns (look the left on the photo with the costumes)
3. I would never select this for a PR attempt, but would absolutely recommend it
4. Yes lots of women were running, fewer in long skirts and such than I expected
5. That orange shirt is the race shirt!! Here nearly everyone wore it for race day, which totally confused me.
6. We had the option to run the full or the half, I’m glad I did the half so I could enjoy the rest of the activities we have planned.
And just to rub it in a little bit more that I’m in Jerusalem having an amazing time….they took us to the spa post race for massages!! AHHH heavenly!!! And we’re finishing Friday with a traditional dinner hosted by a Jewish family. I look forward to learning more about the religion and enjoying their hospitality.
Have you ever done an international race?
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