Monday, 26 March 2012

The Best of Times - The Worst of Times

Jerusalem Marathon 2012

March 16, 2012

This was my slowest marathon - and I had a blast running it. I stayed overnight opposite the start/finish area, but almost contrived to miss the start. There were about 900 starters (2500 in the 1/2 marathon and 4000 in the 10k), and I made it to the back of the start just as they were firing the gun. The weather was wintry – showery and strong wind gusts with a temperature at the start of about 7C (45F). So I decided to take advantage of my overnight proximity to the start line and not towait around in the cold and rain outside. I left the apartment quite late and headed down to the tunnel which goes under the road nearby and into Gan Sacher. Unfortunately when I got there – I found there were barriers and soldiers who notwithstanding my pleas that I was a marathon runner and my start was in a few minutes – refused to let me pass! I ran (quickly!) up towards another entry point on the corner of Bezalel but I wasn't allowed in there either! By now panic was setting in as I headed up to the Supreme Court where they finally let me in and I was running (very fast!) as the clocked ticked over to 7am and the start time. I stripped off my 2nd layer as I ran – and gave up the idea of handing in my bag to the appropriate place - instead I found someone walking back from the start area and shoved it into his hands, told him my race number and "hoped for the best". As I approached the back of the start line from about 200 meters away I heard the race announcer say – We'll count down from 5…" Luckily the start had been delayed by a couple of minutes – and exactly as he reached "zero" I joined the back of the ranks! I settled into a decent rhythm on this hilly course – about 600 meters of ups and downs - in my estimation that's worth at least a 10 minute difference compared to a "flat" course.

The start was at 7am but there was good support on the streets even at this early hour.
It's a stunning course with the climbs offering vistas of all parts of this ancient city. At about the 10k mark I was joined from behind by Ian, one of my clubmates, and we proceeded to run side by side and to enjoy each other's company.

I was steadily taking in gels, salt and water, and felt comfortable - averaging about 4:45/km (7:40/mile) pace. We headed up on the climb to Mount Scopus and ran a circuit of the university campus there heading into very strong winds at one stage. We were laughing and playing off the crowds. One of Ian's friends handed him a block of chocolate... Ian tried a piece and then threw the rest to a group of puzzled soldiers… We headed back downtown and through the Old City and negotiated some slippery cobblestones.

So far the rain had been sporadic, light and even refreshing - but at around 29k we were hit by a hailstorm! More laughter and shouting on our part - it was great to be sharing this run with a friend - and the support on the sidelines was terrific even through the hail.

We headed up to a well known promenade and Ian started inching ahead - I still felt good and stayed in contact - we had a brief out and back from 34k to 37k and I saw that we had closed on some of the runners who were ahead of us. At the turnaround at about 35.5k I was 9 seconds behind Ian - but just about there I felt a sharp pain in my left soleus and had to slow a bit. The pain got worse - I tried sucking a salt tablet and changing my stride. I stopped to stretch it out and returned to running - it still hurt but I was able to continue - but from here in Ian powered home and ran a great negative split passing quite a few runners in the last 6km including 2 age groupers in the last few hundred meters which gained him 3rd place (50-54) out of 105 and 42nd out of 815 finishers. He finished in 3:22:01 (we passed halfway in 1:41:18) and I fnished in 3:27:32 - 8th in the age group, and 59th overall.

Even though I picked up a slight injury towards the end and didn't finish as well as I had hoped, I thoroughly enjoyed this race. The organization was first class, the course was both beautiful and challenging – a true mirror of all that the city represents. The Jerusalemites came out in force to cheer us on – even in the nasty weather – running down Rechov Yehuda reminded me of the cyclists negotiating the crowds in the Tour de France! L'Shana Ha'ba'a Biyerushalaim! Next year in Jerusalem!


  1. well done Tony
    you are getting on a bit so need to stretch more before starting out-- that is what i do on shabbat morning when walking to shule or in the mornings when i have to walk to my car!!!!
    keep it up--real proud --well done
    see you next week PG

  2. Tosh racks up another marathon as Nevies racks up another joke and I get stuck into a couple of burekas. Kol Hakavod, Stevie Dee

  3. I could not have achieved my time without you!
    Thanks for a great run!

  4. Thanks for sending me the link! You did great! I ran it too, but didn't see you, because you were about half an hour ahead of me.

  5. I always enjoy a Tosh run review :-)
    You should be very proud of your up and coming runner Nephew Ariel as well!

  6. Thanks for the blog. Well run on the day! I enjoyed the 10 km with my youngest son (we held hands for the last 200 metres) and my daughter who preferred to run with her boyfriend.
    I look forward to next year's run with Eve?