For visiting bloggers, a ‘remarkable’ 21k run in Jerusalem
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For visiting bloggers, a ‘remarkable’ 21k run in Jerusalem

'This was one of the most challenging courses I've ever been on,' says one obstacles expert

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

The VIBE fitness bloggers and their guides after a day of cycling, hiking and swimming in the area of the Dead Sea (Courtesy Rachele Brooke Smith)
The VIBE fitness bloggers and their guides after a day of cycling, hiking and swimming in the area of the Dead Sea (Courtesy Rachele Brooke Smith)

A record 2,500 foreign visitors joined the pack of some 25,000 Israeli runners at last week’s Jerusalem Marathon, including a team of North American (and one Spanish) fitness bloggers who ran the 21-kilometer half-marathon that is part of the roster of Jerusalem Marathon events.

For Dai Manuel, a Vancouver, Canada, native whose fitness blog reaches 100,000 followers monthly, the Jerusalem half-marathon was his first attempt at tackling a long-distance run, despite nearly a lifetime of fitness and athletic challenges.

“I was familiar with the distance from doing a lot of obstacle courses and Tough Mudder (a series of 10- and 12-mile obstacle courses),” said Manuel, one of five fitness bloggers on the latest VIBE Israel bloggers trip. “But this was one of the most challenging courses I’ve ever been on. Those hills are intense.”

Manuel, along with bloggers Adam Chase (Boulder, Colorado), Rachel Brooke Smith (Los Angeles, California), Amanda Brooks (Denver, Colorado) and Paula Butragueño (Madrid, Spain) was in Israel for a week-long VIBE trip that introduced the group to fellow fitness experts in Israel.

VIBE is a private nonprofit that invites bloggers and other opinion-makers to Israel for week-long tours customized around their areas of interest.

For Manuel, participating in the half-marathon was a highlight of the trip.

“For my first half, I couldn’t have picked a better place to do it,” he said. “There’s just so much history, and to be running through the Old City, seeing those walls; and the runners, the more Orthodox ones, the women running in skirts, there were so many things to take in, it was just remarkable.”

The Jerusalem Marathon includes the 42-kilometer (26-mile) full marathon, a 21-kilometer half-marathon, races of 10 and 5 kilometers, a “family race” of 1.7 kilometers (about a mile) and a special-needs race of 800 meters.

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