Comrades Ultra Marathon makes it to the Holy Land
Shantall, born and raised in Pretoria, would have taken part in his tenth run, earning him membership of the esteemed Green Number Club. Avigdor, who hails from Durban, would have been halfway to that goal. But it wasn’t to be. For the first time in 75 years since World War II, the Comrades was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The motto of the 2020 Comrades was “Iphupho Lami” (Dare to Dream). It attracted a global response for a virtual Comrades that was made up of 43 788 runners from 86 countries, participating in a 5km, 10km, 21km, 45km, or 90km virtual race.
Shantall and Book realised their dream by completing a 90km Israel Comrades Marathon through the footsteps of time in 8 hours, 55 minutes.
Keeping with this year’s Comrades down-run route from Pietermaritzburg to Durban, a similar course from Jerusalem to Jaffa, Tel Aviv, was designed for their 90km journey.
The race began in Jerusalem on Sunday, 14 June, at 00:15 on the heights of Mount Scopus, going down to the Mount of Olives, hugging Mount Moriah via the Western Wall, ascending Mount Zion through the Old City, and up toward Mount Herzl, and past Yad Vashem.
They then ran onto the scenic undulating peaks and valleys of the Jewish National Fund’s forested mountains, culminating with a fast flat finish through the coastal plain to Jaffa, ending with a well-earned dip in the blue waters of the Mediterranean on the Tel Aviv beachfront.
Native Israeli ultra-distance runner Eden Paz joined Shantall and Book for the 90km adventure. These three seasoned ultra-marathon athletes were supported by family and friends along the route – including four running friends – to bring them home as part of their own 21km virtual marathon.
This historical Comrades, run on the ancient pilgrimage route between Jerusalem and Jaffa, was guided while running by Shantall, who is also a licensed national tourist guide in Israel, and shared live on his Facebook page.
Stunning aerial footage was captured by Ben Stern, a friend to the runners, also a resident of Modi’in.
Their dare to dream has now made the Comrades Ultra Marathon a historical fact in the Holy Land.
Next year in Pietermaritzburg with Jerusalem!