The Marathon Journal
By Jeremy Berger
on 4.3.14
Photo by JB

Every religion has its pilgrimages, many of them to Jerusalem. Christians visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Muslims, the Dome of the Rock. Jews pray at the Western Wall. Running, while not an official religion, is nevertheless a sport of the pious, and its acolytes meet once a year at the Jerusalem Marathon. We were on hand at this year’s race to take in the struggle and the glory of a scenic 26.2-mile course that passed the Knesset, wended through the Old City and finished in the largest public park. The route provided ample opportunity for penance, too, with relentless hills, patches of slick old stone and a hot desert sun. Still, the winner was fast: Ronald Kimeli Kurgat of Kenya turned in a time of 02:16:08, setting a course record and beating out his countryman by 26 seconds. We sat this one out — injured — trading GU and Nuun for falafel and Gold Star. But racing or no, the Holy Land’s marathon is well worth the journey.