28 Kislev 5778
December 16 2017


Levitas and Ferziger Finish Challenging Tiberias Marathon in (Personal) Record Times
Some ran six times a week while others only managed to fit two or three runs into their busy weekly schedules. But all adhered to the wisdom of the "long run". For the weeks and months leading up to last week's Tiberias Marathon (yes, a full 42.2 kilometers), five Bet Shemesh residents set out early in the morning for weekly runs which gradually escalated up to 35  kilometers. Sometimes rain confined them to the road. However, the usual routes found them out at 5:30am running up and down the beautiful hills and valleys surrounding Beit Shemesh.
Together, the Beit Shemesh runners headed north on Wednesday evening in order to be ready for the start of the 29th Annual Tiberias Marathon on the morning of Thursday, January 5, 2006 (5 Tevet 5766). Arriving at the Marathon's official hotel they registered for the race and then joined almost a thousand other athletes for the "Pasta Dinner".  Compared to the 40,000 runners in New York or 30,000 in Boston, Tiberias' 800 entrants create a relatively intimate atmosphere. The elite runners from Kenya, Ethiopia and Israel (chasing up to $50,000 in prize money) mingled easily with first-timers and other recreational runners and doled out tips and other war stories. Thursday at 5:45am saw the Beit Shemesh runners in the traditional, well-attended pre-marathon Vatikin minyan followed by a very early breakfast.
At 9am the gun sounded and the field of 800 charged into conditions whose wind and heat combined to create what was later described by women's winner and Israel's 4-time champion Nili Abramsky as "the most difficult race in the last ten years." But for two Beit Shemesh runners, it was a day of "PR"s (Personal Records). Running in his 4th Tiberias Marathon, Rich Levitas crossed the finish line in 3:04:23, surpassing last year's 3:12:21 and placing fourth in his age category. Ari Ferziger made it in 3:43:18, beating his 3:49:52 time of last year, his first marathon. Unfortunately, the day was a painful disappointment for other Beit Shemesh runners. Chaim Wizman, the leader of the Beit Shemesh Runners Club and a four-time marathoner who came in last year in 3:08, was on pace for a sub-3 hour marathon with a split time of 1:28. Sadly, a stress fracture sidelined him at the 25th kilometer. Experienced marathoner, Michael Freedman of RBS was also forced to pull out due to injuries about half way through the race.
The Beit Shemesh Runners Club (led by Chaim Wizman, chaimwizman2002@yahoo.com) meets weekly on Monday evenings at 8:30pm at the park in the Scheinfeld section of Givat Sharet and welcomes new runners. No experience is necessary. Many of the Club's 30 runners have advanced from little or no running experience to run 10ks, half marathons and marathons. The Club also sponsors a Spring and Summer running club for Ethiopian children and teens which attracted over 60 participants last season.




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