The Bible Marathon: A Professional Race and Unforgettable Experience


When does something become a tradition? When people stop emphasizing that it’s a tradition... The Bible Marathon, retracing the footsteps of the biblical marathon runner who ran from Rosh Ha’ayin to Shiloh, was held for the third consecutive time this year. It is quietly becoming a mandatory race among the Israeli running community and picking up momentum among the international running community as well. This isn’t a race that people participate in to break records. After all, the route is especially challenging. It’s a moving race that is an experience that simply cannot be missed.

The Bible Marathon: 3,000 Runners from Israel and Worldwide

Over 3,000 runners participated in the race this year, which included a few different distances: the full marathon, half marathon, 10k, 5k and a course for children with special needs and their families. Most of the runners are Israeli, naturally, but more than one hundred runners from various countries also participated, including from: Brazil, Poland, Sweden, Russia, Spain, and an impressive group of Chinese runners.

Among the running clubs that participated in the race were the very fit runners from various IDF units and local running clubs. Israelis from all over the country came to run in the marathon: from Tel Aviv, Modiin, Jerusalem, Rishon Lezion, Ramle and many more. It was especially moving to watch families who signed up for the course for special needs children putting on their race shirts and setting off.
 

What attracts all of these runners to a race in which they have no chance of breaking any records? We asked one of the runners, Arik Nahum from Modiin:

“I came for the experience - I unintentionally broke a record too”

Arik, I look at this race that is almost entirely uphill, and I ask - why?

Professional races aren’t just to break records; it’s about the runner’s experience too. There are famous races in Israel and around the world that people sign up for because they feel they have to be there, not because they want to break a record. But I must say that surprisingly enough, I broke a record here - I came in at one of the first places for my age group.

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Arik Nahum. Broke a personal record unintentionally

How do you explain that?

I don’t have any explanation. Maybe it’s the views, the air and the atmosphere here. This was one of my most enjoyable races: it was both extremely professional and very pleasant and family-oriented. A lot of effort was put into it.

What do you mean by effort?

All of the small details - the quality and design of the shirt that we received in our package, the number of water bottles that were distributed along the way, the food at the end of the race... There was such an abundance of water and flavored water, fruit, carbs, all without making us feel that we should “take just one and keep running.” The medals that the winners received are also gorgeous and very unique. Finally, the energetic concert by Hanan Ben Ari at the end of the race - I’ve never seen such a thing at any other marathon in Israel. In general, the people here are very, very nice. It was truly an experience. You know what else is different here? The lack of commercialism.

Meaning?

Usually, the area at the end of the race is filled with commercial vendors trying to sell you running gear. Here, there were also a few vendors, but the emphasis was on content, too: a booth with three-dimensional glasses to see the Tabernacle in Shiloh, a lot of information about sightseeing in the area. Two runners and myself continued after the race for a tour of Ancient Shiloh, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. It’s a great place to bring the kids that I had never been to before.

Will you come back next year?

For sure. And I’ll bring a few other friends from my running club who couldn’t make it this year.

The Winners: A Running Coach and an Educator

The big winner of the marathon in the men’s category was Lukasz Wilk from Poland, who completed the entire distance in 03:23:25. 32 seconds after him, Yiftach Pashur came in at a close second, followed seven minutes later by Yosef Fish. In the women’s category, the winners were Ayelet Shrem (04:12:33), Orian Hertz (04:31:11) and Limor Miller (04:43:43).

After getting their breathing back to a semi-normal pace, we caught up with Ayelet Shrem, the marathon winner in the women’s category, and Yiftach Pashur, who came in second place in the men’s category, for a talk about the experience. We tried to learn a few winner tips too.

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Ayelet, so what does a marathon winner’s everyday life look like?

I’m 42 years old and a mother of two girls. I live in Holon, and I coach a running group in the city called Shrem’s Running. I also have TRX groups that I coach.

Yiftach, are you also involved in exercise on a regular basis?

Truthfully, no. I’m 23 years old and I live at Kibbutz Merav, where my parents live, and the rest of the time I am at Kibbutz Ein Hanatziv. I work in the field of education in the valley, working with children at Ein Hanatziv and in a special education class. My work is flexible in terms of hours, so I have a lot of time to exercise.

How did you get into running?

Ayelet: I have been running since I was 8. I discovered that running was fun for me. I was always good at it. Over the past two years, I have participated primarily in marathons and ultra-marathons, which are 60km races. I also participated in a 24-hour run, during which I ran 115km for 24 hours straight.

Yiftach: I also always loved sports, but my love for running developed toward the end of high school, when my peers started talking about the army and combat units. I didn’t qualify for the combat units because I have juvenile diabetes. I enlisted as a volunteer, and I knew that I wouldn’t be a combat soldier. I guess I was looking for another way to get my energy out and challenge myself. This gradually developed into participation in Ironman competitions, triathlons and marathons.

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As competitors with a lot of experience, did you feel the Bible Marathon was something special?

Ayelet: Definitely. It’s an opportunity to run in a gorgeous region of the country. Second, it’s one of the most challenging marathons I’ve ever participated in. The level of difficulty is high.

Yiftach: There are no other races like it in Israel. I also enjoyed the golden opportunity that we were given to run in this region and end the race at Ancient Shiloh. In terms of the route as well, this marathon is unique. It’s not like the ascents of Jerusalem or the flat races of Tiberias. The route begins at one point and ends in a totally different region.

Do you have any tips for aspiring winners?

Ayelet: Yes. You need to practice running uphill and work on strengthening the relevant leg muscles. But in addition, you need to plan your marathon run correctly. Don’t run too quickly at the beginning or too fast at the downhill parts. You need to hold yourself back, also in terms of keeping your heartbeat relatively low throughout the marathon. That is the way to succeed.

Yiftach, do you agree?

Definitely. I think that knowing how to divide up your energy properly is one of the most important elements, and it needs to be done throughout the entire marathon by paying attention to your heartbeat. You need a lot of patience and must leave some strength for the end, because at the descent to Rechelim Junction is where the race really started, in my opinion. There are about 10km there at the end of the race with many ascents. If you’ve reached that point with strength, you can do it.

When’s the next Bible Marathon? September 28, 2018 - We don’t even need to mention that it’s a tradition anymore.

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