2012 'Mattathon' Runner Matt Krieger and frie
2012 'Mattathon' Runner Matt Krieger and frieIsrael news photo: courtesy of Elie Klein

Last week's devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy in New York and all along the Eastern Seaboard meant that for the first time in the history of the annual event, the New York Road Runners' club was forced to cancel the city's 2012 NYC Marathon. It was a wrenching decision, one that wasn't reached easily.

But for one Jew in Jerusalem, six flight cancellations and the end of the race wasn't enough to put him off. "Matt made a commitment,” said a friend. “It was understandable that New York had to cancel its marathon. But Matt decided he would run the marathon by himself in Israel.”

Jerusalem resident Matt Krieger (originally of Monroe, New York) ran a full marathon on Sunday – as he was scheduled to do in New York – so he could still raise money for ALEH, Israel's network of facilities for children with severe physical and cognitive disabilities.

The route took him from his home in the Arnona neighborhood of the capital at the Haas Promenade and ran 42.195 kilometers (26 miles and 385 yards) through Baka, Rechavia, Katamon, Rasco, the Old City, Talpiot and to Gan Sacher. He completed the race there after circling the park eight times.

And he was not alone.

At kilometer 11, Matt was joined by two runners, friends who had also previously run the NYC Marathon – and a Bnei Akiva group joined them for a short stint in the middle, singing as they ran.

People were waiting to cheer him on at Palmach Street in Katamon, and at Gan Sacher, eight more runners joined the group for the final loops around the park.

Matt finished the run in four hours and 14 minutes: “Not as fast as I would have liked, but still good enough for first place!” he kibbitzed.

Most important, he said, he managed to raise several thousand dollars for the agency he cares so much about. “And that's what counts most of all!”