Some 5,000 local and international runners were to pound the streets of the capital on Monday, taking part in the first Jerusalem Maccabiah Night Run.
The run was billed as the inaugural sporting event for the 20th Maccabiah Games, the largest international Jewish sporting event in the world and affectionately known as “the Jewish Olympics.”
The Jerusalem games are scheduled to be held in the capital in July 2017, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem after the Six Day War.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and chairman of the Maccabiah, Amir Peled, were to be at the start line on Yitzchak Kariv Street, opposite the Old City walls.
There are two courses for runners — a 10 kilometer race that was to start at 7.30 p.m. and and a 21.3 km half-marathon that was set to begin at 7.50 p.m.
After starting the 10 km event Barkat, a familiar figure on the Jerusalem running scene, was to then join the half-marathon race.
The event was organized by the Jerusalem Municipality and the Maccabiah.
The race courses were designed to take in some of the capital’s most iconic vistas, passing along King David Street, David Remez Street, Derech Hebron, Yanovsky Promenade, Emek Refaim, Keren Hayesod, Hillel Street, Jaffa Gate, and Zion Gate.
The Maccabi movement emerged in the late 19th century when Jews were routinely excluded from European sports clubs and events.
The first European Maccabi Games were held in Prague in 1929. Since 1969, they have been held every four years, alternating with the Maccabiah Games in Israel.
Berlin hosted the most recent European Maccabi Games in Berlin last year. A record 2,300 athletes from 36 countries participated in the competition.
AFP contributed to this report.