13th Jerusalem Marathon Official Launch (Photo Essay)

By BJLIfe/Sharon Altshul
Posted on 02/28/24

Jerusalem, Israel - Feb. 28, 2024  - The 13th International Jerusalem Winner Marathon is to be held on Friday, March 8, 1024, with anticipated participation of 35 - 45 thousand runners from all over Israel and around the world. The Jerusalem Municipality decided to hold the annual marathon as planned, as a tribute to the IDF, security forces, and rescue teams, aiming to strengthen social resilience during the ongoing war on the southern and northern fronts. The marathon's continuation will allow thousands of runners who have trained for months for the Jerusalem Marathon and other races worldwide to continue their training and achieve their sports goals set before the war.

The 'bar mitzvah' year Jerusalem Marathon launch was held at the Givat Ram Stadium on Wednesday midday, February 28, with the sun shining but not too warm for comfort. The dias was placed in the stadium with the background of yellow balloons spelling out 134, for the number of hostages held in Gaza. Blue and white balloons attached to the bleacher seats blew gently in the wind as Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion and others spoke to the media audience. 

Registration this year is free for IDF soldiers, security forces, and rescue teams, including reservists who served or are serving in the October 7 War. Wives and children of reservists who served or are serving in the October 7 War will receive a 50% discount on marathon registration fees.

Aya Meydan a resident from Beeri who relocated to Jerusalem after October 7, spoke on behalf of southern residents who will be featured running this year in Jerusalem. 

The municipality of Jerusalem and the sports brand SAUCONY announced the official shoe of the 13th Jerusalem Winner Marathon - GUIDE 17, featuring the inscription "Jerusalem marathon" on it. This is the second year that the Jerusalem Marathon has introduced an official running shoe, following the tradition of international marathons in New York, Tokyo, Paris, and Berlin.

Orr Sheizaf, an experienced marathon runner and reservist serving in the 5th division, fought in Gaza and was injured in his hands and legs last December. Shizaf was chosen to be the Saucony ambassador for the marathon this year. The unveiling of the shoe was particularly emotional as it marks Shizaf's first time wearing running shoes after his injury. After 12 years as a civilian, Sheizaf joined the reserves on October 7th, fought in the Gaza Envelop, and a few weeks later, his unit entered Gaza. 

During a raid in Khan Yunis, he and his fellow soldiers entered a house that turned out to be a Hamas residence. During a search in the yard, they found an entrance to a tunnel, and seconds later, there was a massive explosion from a hidden device. Orr was 'moderately' injured and suffered an open fracture and severe bleeding. Quick action by the medical team in the field, applying a tourniquet, prevented a more severe injury. At Soroka Medical Center, Orr was diagnosed with fractures in his foot, shrapnel injuries in his thighs, and a broken arm. During a 4-hour surgery, a titanium plate was implanted in his arm.

Since the injury, Shizaf has been undergoing complex rehabilitation, including physiotherapy and occupational therapy, to stand on his feet, and attempt to run a few kilometers in the community section of the Jerusalem Winner Marathon. "The Jerusalem Marathon is the first race I have ever participated in, and returning to run again in the upcoming Jerusalem Marathon, even symbolically, will be a meaningful closure for me," said Shizaf.

BJL asked the determined Israeli runner where he learned to speak English so well. He learned in high school but said he gained his confidence in speaking English while working in the US at a summer camp in Maryland. 

"The State of Israel is in the middle of a justified struggle like no other. The strength of a society is measured by its ability to continue daily life in the face of challenges, alongside support for its dedicated and heroic soldiers on the front lines. The residents of Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel, are excited and proud to contribute, even in a small way, to the collective spirit and the boost of national morale, dedicating the Jerusalem Marathon events to the heroes of Israel. This marks the 13th year that the city invites runners from across the country and the world to run on one of the most beautiful marathon routes globally. We all hope that peace, security, and tranquility will return to our beloved country quickly. Am Yisrael Chai, and we will not stop running," stated the Mayor of Jerusalem.

The primary sponsor of the marathon is once again, Toto Winner, which is why the official name is Jerusalem Winner Marathon.