Yesterday I participated in the 15th Annual Jerusalem Half Marathon. Why a half? Because neither I nor Jerusalem are ready for a full marathon. As diligent readers of this blog, my main means of transportation is bicycle, but I also enjoy a nice run from time to time. The more one slows down, the more one sees of the world.
On the one hand, the Jerusalem Half Marathon is a wonderful experience, on the hand deeply symptomatic of the critical problems facing Jerusalem, and for that matter the region (which rests it's future and progress on resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, Jerusalem being the center of that).
I could write a book about just the issues surrounding the marathon, but as this is a blog (not a blook) I will just highlight:
-It's deemed as "Jerusalem" race, yet only goes through West Jerusalem, we did not pass through one non-Jewish neighborhood. For forty years Israeli leadership and public have promoted a united city, yet we time and time again keep the city divided. I am one of the few West Jerusalemites (Jews) who regularly goes to East Jerusalem, for social as well as business visits.
-No publicity before the race itself, or notification to residents of the neighborhoods we would be passing through...which meant huge traffic jams (there were about 1000 participants, I believe) with no explanation. Growing up in NY, I would go every year to cheer on my uncle and tens of thousands of others in the NYC Marathon...which was a festive day, massive publicity beforehand. This is classic Jerusalem Municipality behavior...nice ideas but horrible execution and no sense of marketing.
-As a result of no publicity, often I was literally alone...running the route as if it were a Marathon designed just for me! Unfortunately this a feeling that many of us feel at times, alone in the midst of the center of world. For me it was a momentary feeling, but we need to remember that in the Earthly Jerusalem there are thousands and thousands of real people, who are all alone. In the beginning and end of the race, however, saw what has become an annual community...my longtime friends Ari Ferziger, Nir Barkat (who hopefully will improve the municipal functions when he is Mayor), and many more. And i saw them all at the end...a family reunion after long individual focused experience.
-With no training, I improved on my personal best, and finished the 21 kilometers in 1:57. Not bad. Thank God I ride my bike almost every day...Just goes to show that with determination anything is possible. But the pain in my legs today tells me would not be such a bad idea to train just a little...
Lets pray that someday soon the Jerusalem Half Marathon will become a Full Marathon, traversing from East to West, truly uniting the city, no matter what national flag we run under. And that all of Jerusalem comes out to cheer us in spirit of peace and prosperity. Amen.