Through Israel from north to south – my 2022-2023 virtual running challenge

In 2022, I’m going to run through all of Israel. At least virtually. But let’s take it from the beginning. Last week, I ran a half marathon in the Jerusalem marathon. I know, some of you are rolling your eyes right now. “I signed up to read this guy’s updates about his book and his writing, not his running. If I wanted to read about running, I’d follow a running blog.”

You’re right. There are a million running blogs and YouTube channels and podcasts out there, and I’m not one of them. My website, blog, social media, and online platform is supposed to be about Israel, religion, history, and the historical fiction books I’m writing. Not about my running. That’s a separate hobby, and there’s no reason I should write about that here.

So instead I will tell you how my goal to write and publish a book is similar to my goal of running a marathon. And also about my biblical virtual challenge to run through all of Israel in 2022.

This was the third time I did a half marathon, but the first time I did it while being well-trained enough to not be dead afterwards. In fact, just a week later (which is two days ago) I did a training run of 17.5km! Yeay me.

In the last marathon, in October 2021, I ran a 10k. It was hot and summer weather and I gasped for air during some of the steep ascents of Jerusalem. This time, it was the opposite. It was cold and rainy. And also, the half marathon is the first race, so I had to be there at 6:20 the latest. Oh, and did I mention? Israel switched to daylight saving that very night, so when I had to get up at 4:30 to get there in time, it felt like 3:30.

The freezing cold and rain and darkness was worst just before the run, waiting for the start. Once I was on my way, the sun came up, the running itself kept me warm, and the rain had the decency to stop for a while. I finished 1:54:54, which is not bad at all. My wife and my two daughters waved at me as I ran by close to our house, and my daughters even joined me for a few meters. The photo at the start of the blog was taken by my wife when I ran past.

Back in 2015, I set up two goals for myself. Write and publish a book and run a full marathon. I have so far accomplished zero of those goals.

Because guess what? Turns out both of those are really hard!

I’m much closer to both goals than I’ve ever been, though, and I’m not giving up now. Besides, when it comes to goals, you must enjoy the road there. I enjoy writing, and I enjoy running, and I will keep doing both no matter what. If I did it just for the accomplishment, what would I do when I reach it? I’d just say “Ok, now what?” But since I’m enjoying it, I know exactly what I’ll do. I’ll write another book. And run another marathon.

When it comes to the writing, I’ve recently read “Writing Deep Viewpoint” by Kathy Tyers and I got so inspired I now want to go through everything I’ve written again and make it better. I also might change the setup and make it all a trilogy.

As for the running, I’ve never been in better shape, and my goal is now to run a full marathon in the Jerusalem marathon 2023. In order to be prepared for that, I will try to do a long run every week.

So yesterday I ran into the Jerusalem hills and back home on a 17.5km run. It was beautiful. The frogs were croaking; the vultures were circling me (wait, what?) and the water springs were beautiful. But the run was actually much harder than my 21.1km half marathon, and I ran slower. It was hotter, I had no one to compete against, no one who cheered, and my feet were still sore from last week. But I’m thinking that if I can get used to running like this once a week, no matter how badly or slow I run it, I will build up endurance and with time it will be easier to build up for a full marathon.

Croaking frogs
Selfie at the water spring in the Jerusalem hills
Vultures circling high above me during my run. I probably looked exhausted…

I will log an accumulation of how many kilometers I’m running starting now, and add them up, to see how far I get. I am making a virtual run through Israel, from Hermon to Eilat, intending to reach Eilat before the next marathon. Depending on how you count, Israel is about 430km long.

So this first run of 17.5km is virtually taking me from mount Hermon (also known as Sion in the Bible – not the same as Zion) to the Druze village Mas’ade, and from there to the west, past Hermon Stream (which is Banias, or Caesarea Philippi where Peter confessed Jesus as the Messiah) to the kibbutz Dan, named after the nearby ancient city Dan where king Jeroboam put a golden calf. So right now I’m virtually in Dan. From here I will run south, past the Sea of Galilee and down through the Jordan valley. I will update this after every run and put it on my social media. Don’t worry, I won’t annoy my blog readers with another update for each and every run.

So this is my virtual running challenge. To reach Eilat before the full marathon on March 17th 2023, and maybe even pass it. If I could get a bit into Sinai too, it would be cool. Elijah went all the way from the Galilee to mount Sinai (1 Kings 19). Joseph and Mary went from Nazareth to Bethlehem, and then on to Egypt. I should be able to do it.

See? This post wasn’t just about running! It was about Israel and the Bible too! Hah!

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