2,200 join first International Bible Marathon in Israel

(Photo: Youtube)

Around 2,200 runners took part in an International Bible Marathon which started in Rosh Haayin and ended in the ancient Biblical site of Tel Shilo last week.

The event was the first ever Bible marathon held in Israel, according to a JNS.org report.

The race was inspired by the Bible passage 1 Samuel 4:12-13 recounting the journey of a man from the tribe of Benjamin, who ran from from Eben Ezer (now Rosh Haayin) to the town of Shilo to deliver the news of the Israelis' defeat by the Philistines to the priest Eli.

In the same battle, the Philistines were able to seize the Ark of the Covenant holding the tablets that the Ten Commandments were written upon.

"We hope that through the marathon, more and more Israelis will learn to know the amazing landscapes and historic stories of the Benjamin region," said Moshe Rontzki, director of the Tourism Department for the Binyamin Regional Council in Judea and Samaria.

Meanwhile, Shahar Tzadok, one of the organisers, said in an interview with the AFP that most of those who joined the run were Israeli, with only a few foreigners participating in the race. He added that Jews were also among those who ran the course.

The race, which covered a 26 mile route, included four categories – a full marathon, a half marathon, a 15-kilometer race and a 5-kilometer run. Many roads were shut to accommodate the number of runners who turned up.

The mostly uphill marathon started at 5:30am, and passed Ariel, one of the largest settlements in the West Bank without much fanfare. This was a major concern for race organisers as an earlier report indicated that two days before the marathon, a Palestinian man stabbed two Israeli soldiers who were part of a military medical unit in the area, before he was shot dead by authorities.

Ariel Rosenfeld, 41, won the marathon, clocking in at just over 3 hours and 30 minutes.