As Jerusalem continues to shake off its, er, parochial reputation, Israel’s Ministry of Tourism this week announced the second annual Jerusalem International Marathon will run its course on March 16 around some of the Holy City’s most iconic sites.
The race, whose 2011 debut drew more than 10,000 runners from more than 40 countries, will include a full and half marathon, as well as a 10K run, according to a press release. The race “will bring participants through sites within Jerusalem’s historical landscape, including the Mount of Olives, Mount Zion, the Knesset, Jerusalem Promenade and various Old City sites such as Sultan’s Pool and the German Colony,” the announcement said.
An online greeting from Mayor Nir Barkat crowed that last year, “Jerusalem joined the list of leading international cities that host a full marathon, drawing thousands of runners and dozens of thousands of spectators.”
“I myself am a sports and running fan and previously completed five marathons in different cities around the world,” the message boasts. “As part of the Jerusalem International Marathon I ran the half marathon and based on my experience I can wholeheartedly say with extreme confidence that Jerusalem lived up to the highest international standards.” The Marathon announcement comes on the heels of Sunday’s front-page New York Times “Travel” dispatch from Jerusalem, in which “deeply secular Jew” Matt Gross discovered a beating heart beneath the city’s ancient spiritual veneer — and confronted his own “complex feelings” about Judaism.
No guarantees from the Ministry of Tourism that marathon participants will experience similar epiphanies.