Subscribe to our Newsletter

click to dowload our latest edition



‘My faith is my super power’, says Speedy Beatie



Running sensation Beatie Deutsch is a Haredi Orthodox mom of five, the fastest woman in Israel, and a four-time Israeli marathon champion. She’s frum and fearless and if you’d told her eight years ago that she would grace advertising billboards in bustling cities wearing her trademark headscarf, elbow-length shirt, and knee-length Lycra skirt, or that she’d captivate packed speaking venues with her motivational journey, she would have laughed in your face.

Back then, the most exercise she got was chasing her kids around her Jerusalem flat getting them ready for bed. “As an Orthodox mother, exercise was the last thing on my mind,” she said, never mind becoming a professional elite marathon phenomenon with an Olympic qualifying time and a roomful of gold medals. All she ever dreamt of was to raise a religious family and “share the beauty of Judaism with the world and to make a difference for Jewish communities”.

A family outing to the beach in 2016 was the turning point, Deutsch told audiences in Cape Town and Johannesburg this week, as she struggled to run 100m, and realised she needed to get in shape.

“I told my husband, ‘That’s it, I’m going to run a marathon.’ I signed up so that I’d commit to the training.” A mere four months later, with zero running knowledge or experience, she finished in sixth place with a staggering first time marathon time of 3:27:26.

From then on, there was no stopping the American-born Israeli mom, the oldest of five siblings, who married at 19 and had four children in six years.

The next year, Deutsch ran the same Tel Aviv marathon – slower but this time seven months pregnant – finishing with a jaw-dropping 4:08:16. It was then that heads began to turn as Deutsch seemed to defy the odds and display extraordinary athleticism. Just after having her fifth child, she went on to win the Jerusalem Marathon, and earned the title of Israel’s fastest woman.

Dubbed “Speedy Beatie” and “Marathon Mom” Deutsch, 34, visited South Africa this week with her son, Ben-Tzion, 11. She was invited by the Israel Centre, the South African Zionist Centre, Mizrachi South Africa, Elitzur, and the Partnership2Gether Global Network to spread her message of hope, resilience, and faith.

After 7 October, Deutsch felt her message no longer had relevance “because people were just trying to survive”.

“However, when I heard my friends talk about their sons who had lost their lives and read their moving letters, I realised these boys knew exactly what they were ready to die for and if this was the case, then we need to know what we’re living for. They died so that we could continue living as proud Jews,” she said.

So, she continues to run, spreading her message and inspiring others to live their best life “in spite of the pain, suffering, and everything the Jewish world is going through”.

“What this running journey has taught me is that we have so much more strength than we know. We’re so much more capable than we realise,” she said.

When she was offered an opportunity to become a professional athlete, she turned to her rabbi for advice. He told her that she was “a one-time phenomenon”, and it must be that she was created for a special mission. “With that, I pursued my professional running career,” she said.

Deutsch may be a tiny 4ft11 (1.25m) but she’s larger than life, a petite powerhouse with unwavering determination in spite of numerous health and injury setbacks and gut-wrenching disappointments.

Two months before the Jerusalem Marathon, she returned from a long run and felt depleted. A blood test revealed she had Celiac disease, and her iron levels were dangerously low. But true to form, Deutsch wasn’t deterred. She cut out gluten from her diet, had an iron infusion, and went on to win. More important than winning, she said it gave her a platform to raise money for Beit Daniella, a rehabilitative mental-health centre for youth, which was named after her cousin, Daniella Pardes, who died by suicide at 14 after a struggle with anorexia. As someone who has struggled on and off with “distorted eating”, her cousin’s death had affected her deeply.

Though Deutsch is famous for her speed and positivity, she’s no stranger to disappointments. The Tokyo Olympics was postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the women’s marathon was moved from a Sunday to a Saturday, meaning that Deutsch needed to convince the International Olympic Committee to switch the date or she couldn’t compete. Then runners needed to requalify, beating a new standard time of 2:29:30 or ranking in the top 80.

“Sadly, while I ran a new personal record of 2:31:39 in England, I didn’t make the cutoff. I was gutted.

“My ultimate dream is the Olympics, so I’m still chasing 2:29:30,” said Deutsch whose Paris 2024 Olympic dream ended following a recurring hamstring injury which she says is still healing.

“My parents always said I was like a dog with a bone,” said Deutsch who admits she’s an “A-type, perfectionist, control freak”.

“I’ve learnt to be patient, to have faith, and to stay the course. I’ve had to learn what it means to just show up and be ok with whatever happens on the day, and trust that if you know you did your best, then you can’t ask anymore from yourself as a runner.”

“My faith is my super power,” she said, as well as her skirt, which has earned her many nicknames including “Dignified Queen” by top Kenyan runners when she trained with them in Kenya, and “Lady in the Skirt”, which she heard on the sidelines of the 2019 Cape Town Marathon.

“The South African Jewish community is unique in that there’s this special love, warmth, and connection, and that’s what Judaism needs right now. I’m coming away from here inspired, knowing that we each have the power to change the world in our own small way. It’s not about running, it’s about life. We’re all in a marathon.”

Continue Reading
1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Sam Lison

    Jun 6, 2024 at 8:14 pm

    Beatie Deutsch is amazing and an inspiration to us all! It is wonderful to see her training on Jerusalem’s running paths. But I think we need to be fair to Lonah Chemtai Salpeter who is Israel’s premier and fastest female marathon runner. Lonah is a Kenyan-born Israeli Olympic runner. She won the bronze medal in the marathon at the 2022 World Athletics Championships. At the European Athletics Championships in the 10,000 metres, Salpeter won the gold medal in 2018, and earned a bronze medal in 2022. She won the 2020 Tokyo Marathon, won the silver medal at the 2022 New York City Marathon, and finished third at the 2023 Boston Marathon. Salpeter will represent Israel at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris in the marathon on August 11, 2024. Both Beatie and Lonah make us proud, and are great examples of prominent, confident Israeli women.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *