Durban’s first Jewish marathon sprints off starting blocks
Rabbi Pinchas Zekry, himself an ardent runner, has long been promoting among his congregants the Maimonides notion of “a healthy soul in a healthy body”. On the strength of this wisdom, he has now initiated the first Jewish “marathon” in Durban.
The beachfront promenade on Durban’s famous Golden Mile was alive with activity on Sunday, 16 April, when the Jewish community and friends gathered for the inaugural Masada Run/Walkathon, which doubled as a fundraiser for Masada Workshop, Durban’s Jewish sheltered employment programme. There were varying options, including a 10km run, 5km run, 5km walk, and 3km walk.
The event attracted more than 200 people – not to mention the many canine companions who tagged along. Among the crowd were representatives from various organisations, including Akiva College, Eden College, the Union of Jewish Women, the Community Security Organisation, PKF Chartered Accountants, and NSG Attorneys.
Said multi-medal-winning Durban running legend Adam Lipschitz (29), who won gold for South Africa at the last Maccabi Games, and who participated in the event, “It was great for the community to get involved in a sport that everybody can do. I haven’t seen the Jewish community together like this for a while, besides on the high holidays.”
The event was organised by the newly launched Chaverim Community Hub, a project of the Umhlanga Jewish Centre. “We’re a place where every individual can connect to their Jewish identity in whichever way they choose and at all stages of life,” said Chairperson Alana Baranov.
Sunday’s event did indeed attract the full spectrum of the community. Arthur Zimmerman, a veteran runner with more than 100 marathons under his belt including 20 Comrades Marathons, was the oldest participant, running the 10km leg in an hour and 18 minutes at the age of 81. Ashira Friedman, aged three, toddled the 3km leg in 47 minutes, making her the youngest person to take part in the event.
After the walkathon, the crowd gathered at the Durban Jewish Centre for brunch and a medal ceremony. Winners in the 10km run included Dylan Williams and Adam Lipschitz (20-39 age category), Rowan Budlender (40-49 age category), and Zekry and Michael Joffe (50+ category).
The event is slated to become an annual fixture on the Jewish calendar, with next year’s walkathon open to participants from around the country.