The New York City Marathon had been run every year since 1970, until New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Saturday called off Sunday’s race due to the city’s precarious state following superstorm Sandy.
Matt Krieger — born in Monroe, New York, and living in Jerusalem — had hoped to run the 42.2 kilometers (26.2 miles), but after six flights to New York were grounded due to the storm, on Thursday he canceled his participation in New York and decided to run the marathon on his own, in Jerusalem.
“I don’t really like running, especially not the training,” Krieger told The Times of Israel on Sunday. Not pleasure but principle pushes the 32-year-old’s efforts to keep going for some four hours. “I’m running to raise money for ALEH,” he explained.
The organization is one of Israel’s largest networks of facilities for children with severe physical and cognitive disabilities. “Friends and family have pledged more than $3,000 to the cause,” and Krieger said he owed it to them to run, as well as to those receiving the money.
The Yeshiva University graduate, who officially moved to Israel after finishing his master’s degree at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said ALEH was an organization doing “fantastic work,” which had “a positive impact on many lives.”
The damage wrought by Sandy in New York along with other parts of the East Coast caused tens of thousands to lose their chance to run the race this year. But not Krieger. Though not in the Big Apple, Krieger was determined to run a marathon anyway.
Over the weekend, Krieger pored over maps of Jerusalem, plotting a route that would cover the full distance. At 7 p.m. on Sunday, Krieger plans to kiss his three children and start running. His route will start at his home in the Arnona neighborhood and take him through the city’s streets to Sacher Park, which he will circle a number of times to complete the last 14 kilometers.
Krieger ran his first full marathon in NYC last year, and hopes to finish his “Matt-athon” in less time. “Jerusalem is different, with all the ups-and-downs,” he said. “I’ll be happy with any result under four hours.”
There are a number of friends who will join him at various points along the way to give him a boost. For the first 30 kilometers Krieger plans to carry his own liquids, as well as gummy worms. His wife and others will provide him with water and energy snacks as he gets to the last section.
While running is hard, his effort was, he explained, “something small I could do to help ALEH and the work they do.”