Over the last several year, Israel has become very active in the marathon circuit. Having one of the most difficult marathons in the world, the Jerusalem marathon, as well as many others throughout the year, Israelis are no foreigner when it comes to running for sport, health and fun.
For the past 28 years, the IDF Golani Brigade has been getting in on the action as well.
April 26th marked the beginning of the 28th Golani Marathon, which continues until the end of the month. Termed “the people’s brigade” by marathon organizers, this year’s marathon opened up participation to people from all over the country.
The run is being sponsored by the LIBI Fund, which is donating more than a quarter of a million shekel to the marathon.
According to one LIBI spokesperson, “anyone who is able can donate to Golani through the LIBI Fund, and if you happen to be in one of the cities that the run will take place in you can join the festivities, and receive a free Golani t-shirt. It will be an exciting event in each place, one which we are giving our full support to.”
The race will travel through six of Israel’s biggest cities – Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Herzliya, Tiberias, Beer Sheva and Eilat – and will encompass the entire country, north to south, in five days. Marathon participants will complete the race in Israel’s southernmost city of Eilat on the 30th.
Current and former Golani soldiers, as well as friends, family and supporters are all taking part in the marathon. Many soldiers use the marathon as an opportunity for an unofficial reunion.
The race began on the slopes of Mount Hermon in the northern-most reaches of Israel. Golani soldiers kicked off the race with the lighting of a special torch that will pass through Israel, relay style for 830 kilometers.
Over the course of the run the entire country is invited to come and cheer on the soldiers. In Jerusalem, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin will be participating in the event as well as Mayor Nir Barkat.
The camaraderie that Israel’s prestigious Golani Brigade gives off to the nation has been felt ever more acutely this year as the brigade was hard hit and took many casualties during Operation Protective Edge, including the deaths of two lone soldiers.