Goody Two Shoes Encourages the Bloggers to Sweat it Out
There have been three Palestinian Marathons, which have achieved international status. Google: Right To Movement or Palestinian Marathon for more details. I want to share some 'from the ground ' details and how we bloggers have participated even before we began blogging .
April 21st 2013
This was the first and hardest to launch. People laughed, people were negative, people said they never heard of such a silly thing. The Jerusalem Post did a write up of the event a few weeks before, straight after the organisers received threats from some settler groups. They were going to show up and destroy the event on April 21st ...They never carried out these threats..
All the above made me more determined than ever to participate .
I joined a Palestinian training group which ran every Saturday on some lumpy (but beautiful) path at the top of Beit Jala. The numbers were few. I walked and was by far the oldest member unless my husband came with me. The male runners protected the female ones who were often jeered at if they ran in town. Some people brought their dogs. All in all it was a relaxed, fun and excellent way to get people involved .
I had my own methods of recruitment. Bee (the blogger), my family and friends were willing and soft targets, except Tootsie Pop (youngest blogger). I had to nag, encourage, pressure and manipulate her into signing up. She did, finally, and even wore a silly hat and thoroughly enjoyed herself whilst making history.
Although the races started late due to endless speeches made by everybody who was allowed to it seemed, the warm up music arrived late, it rained, medal collecting was disorganised, and the list goes on and on, there was a sense of something starting that was 'right'- a future, a hope, and a change, especially for women and sport. I was so happy to be part of the struggle, the birth, the opposition and obstacles.
April 11th 2014
Determined as ever, Bee and I decided to train once a week (more like every two weeks) in the months leading up to the Marathon.
Our enthusiasm had spread to others. Y and Alice (sometimes) joined us in the training. Bee and Y sprinted off at the speed of light so Alice and I pushed the stroller with Y's infant in it .....We were walking anyways (a great excuse!). To top it all, my husband ran with Bee and Y.
Abbsi was doing her own training in the Bethlehem area (I used the shaming method with her!)
Tootsie Pop was busy getting engaged so didn't join.
The public in Bethlehem was much more aware of the Marathon this time and there was much less arguing of drivers at closed roads and less bread hawkers ON the running track.
The new Mayor's speech was twenty words instead of twenty minutes, there was a stage for warm up, an orderly way to collect kits and medals, and an organised team of workers and volunteers. I was impressed at how things had changed within a year. I also enjoyed the breakfast we ate afterwards in a local eatery!
March 27th 2015
The 5 km race was removed due to fear of oversubscription. Rumours said over 3,000 runners would participate and they were right! Bee and I didn't train much due to travels (her) and Arthritis (me).
I do not like to be left out though, so at the last minute registered. Two of my sons were to be like bodyguards running (or walking) on either side of me to make sure I didn't collapse or give up .They did this for my husband last year as he ran and it worked!
I am so glad I joined in. Fantastic atmosphere on Manger Square.
Doves, balloons, music, marching band, jugglers, dancers, more music and again a very short sentence from the amazing new Mayor who started the races on time.
BUT this year we had formed our blog and everybody participated, whether it be from emails and texts of encouragement, cheering, running or walking! We even had a live link from our correspondent on the ground in Manger Square to our technical broadcaster in Jerusalem!
I am so pleased and encouraged as running/sport groups spring up all over Palestine and it is no longer ridiculous for women to run on the streets training. There is an annual, fun, healthy event to look forward to every year that speaks of hope and future.
I feel honoured to participate in it, I thrive on the fun and the challenge to get people to join in. Thank you fellow bloggers for your support but I will never ever forget the first one when it rained on us (less than 500 people).