The Jerusalem International Marathon 2012Mark takes on the ultimate spiritual journey through Jerusalem
March 16, 2012"Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Keep straight the path of your feet, and all your ways will be sure." - Proverbs 4:25-26 I had the privilege of running the Jerusalem half marathon a few weeks ago on March 16th. Contrary to the advice of Proverbs, I was unable (and had no desire) to keep my eyes straight ahead while running through Jerusalem! How could one? In two hours I covered 21 kilometers and 3,000 years of history! A veritable time-chase back through time passing sites either built, destroyed or re-built by ancient Hebrews, Hellenists and Romans, Byzantines, Persians, and Ottomans, British Mandatory officials, Jordanians and Israelis. The highlight of the course was running alongside walls of Jerusalem's Old City, in through the Jaffa Gate, along the slippery cobblestones of the Armenian Quarter, and then out through the Zion Gate. What an exhilarating experience! This was no "normal" marathon I faced - in addition to the terrain and the pace which kept me breathless, the vistas and spirituality all around conspired to take what little breath I had remaining, away! But the sublime is always partnered with the ridiculous, and such was the 2nd annual Jerusalem International Marathon event: pouring rain, hail stones, high winds, a plunging thermometer and incessant hills of "Biblical" proportions! All that was missing to fit the pre-Passover season were locusts, frogs, and a few other nasty plagues!! Jewish Sages talked in terms of an ascent to Jerusalem, Jerusalem being considered above all, as much a spiritual goal as a physical destination. How true! It was as if we were on a constant climb to the finish - no matter how long we ran, we always seemed to be going uphill! I had erroneously thought that "Heavenly Jerusalem" and "Earthly Jerusalem" were two distinct metaphysical concepts. How clearly did the course prove me wrong! Do not go to Jerusalem to race if you are looking to qualify for Boston. It just won't happen! The organisers and the city out did themselves, making everyone feel welcome and a part of the event. Over 12,000 people participated across 4 events (the full, the half, a 10K and a 4.2K family run). The majority of the city was closed to traffic and so businesses and schools had to be closed. It certainly helps for the host city to have a 5-time marathoner as mayor! Had the weather not been so miserable, the crowds would have been enormous. As it was, there was no lack of supporters along the way. Truly, running through Jerusalem was a most remarkable and life affirming experience. "Next Year in Jerusalem!" as it is said, for the 3rd Annual Jerusalem International Marathon! (but we'll pray before then for no rain or hail!) Mark Adler Thornhill, Ontario Canada
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