The city of Jerusalem will join the world's leading cities in hosting an international marathon in 2011, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat announced after participating in the annual New York City race Sunday. "In Jerusalem, we are focused on returning Jerusalem to its historic role as an international destination site for tourists and pilgrims, a task similar to running a marathon," he said.
Neturei Karta protest Photo: City of Jerusalem A day before the marathon, demonstrators from the ultra-orthodox Jewish group Neturei Karta protested against Mayor Barkat and stepped on an Israeli flag. New York police protected the mayor from any threats.
The city already is making arrangements to host a marathon, which will bring in thousands of tourists and millions of dollars to the capital.
The mayor runs five kilometers (slightly more than three miles) from his home to his office several times each week. Mayor Barkat and more than a dozen friends from the army managed to finish the grueling race, with the mayor crossing the finish line four hours and 42 minutes, plus 46 seconds, after starting out.
It was the fifth time that Mayor Barkat, now age 50, has participated in a marathon. He previously has run in Paris and Berlin as well as in Israel. However, he has not yet taken on the challenge of the Boston Marathon, which features “Heartbreak Hill” more than half-way through the 26-mile race.
His participation in the New York City Marathon is part of a working tour throughout the United States and Canada.