As I wrote before, I’ve found a dearth of information in English about running races in Israel, so I want to use my blog as a way to fill this void! I’ve already run 5 races in Israel, so I’ll start by recapping my most recent race, and working my way backwards.
I live in Tel Aviv, which is one of the largest cities in Israel. People compare Tel Aviv to NYC, and while I understand why (cultural hub, lots of start-ups, lots of young people, CRAZY rent prices), it’s not exactly the same. The main difference is easy beach access, and the fact that rather than complaining about always being busy…Tel Avivians are actually always busy. And yet, the cafes are always full. Not sure how this works…
ANYWAY, despite the fact that Tel Aviv is a huge city, it’s not always easy to find races here. Therefore, when I found the Home Race, a 5k, 10k, and half marathon run entirely in Park Hayarkon (the Central Park of Tel Aviv, meaning that it’s a huge park, lots of running/cycling/outdoor activities), I jumped at the chance to register for the 10k.
Originally, I planned on running the half marathon, but life got in the way. By that, I mean that the week before, I went on vacation to Amsterdam/The Netherlands with my boyfriend (and ran a 10k race there as well), and wasn’t sure how I’d be feeling afterwards. This was smart, because in Schiphol airport, I literally felt myself getting sick…and spent all of the next day in bed. Smart planning.
In addition to my vacation…I just haven’t been running much lately. My excuse is a combination of laziness, and an intense schedule. I’m in Hebrew class from 8:15am-12:50pm four days a week, and then go to work. (The workday I don’t have ulpan, I “just” go to work.) And while this means that I technically work fewer hours, my brain is always fried. Learning another language is hard, folks! However, I’m definitely gaining fluency in Hebrew, so it’s worth the investment. (And how can I work fewer hours at a full-time job? This is my fifth year running my summer program, so I’ve gotten more effective/I have fewer anxiety attacks and therefore procrastinate less. Yay!)
To sum up–I haven’t been running as much lately (1-3 times a week…but on the lower end of that, and usually 8-10km/5-6.2mi a time), and I suspected that this race would be somewhat barebones/low on crowd support, so I felt that the 10k race was my best option.
Spoiler alert: I was right, but this was a great race, which I plan to add to my 2020 race calendar!
The Home Race 10k, overview:
The Home Race, now in its 4th year, is held in memory of Omer Manos, someone who was very beloved in the Israeli running community…and that’s the extent of my knowledge.
Price: 110 shekel/about $30…relatively standard race fee here.
Website: Hebrew only…and not too much info. But it was sufficient, and if Hebrew is an issue, there’s always Google translate…
Ease of finding info about the race: If I didn’t regularly visit the few Israeli race sites I’ve found, I wouldn’t have known this race existed. It’s not run by one of the two main race organizers, so it got basically no publicity/marketing. It’s a shame, because if it was better publicized, more people might join. I think I read that they were capping the registration at 1200 people, but according to the results page, there were only 707 runners…
How I got to the race: Bus! And since I have a monthly bus pass, this was pre-paid. BONUS: The race was held entirely in the park, so there were no road closures, and I was able to catch a bus that dropped me off right in front of the start/finish area.
Weather: in the 50s, I think? A bit chilly, but the sun was out and it was absolutely lovely!
Time: 7:40am…could have been later, to be honest. I set my alarm for 5:45am so I could have coffee and go to the bathroom, and was out the door by 6:30am. Caught a bus to the stadium where the start/finish area was held, and arrived around 7:10am. Plenty of time!
Start/finish area: Well organized, with a coffee and snack area, as well as a small expo. Also, the race ended in a stadium, which meant…INDOOR/HEATED BATHROOMS! Epic win.
Lining up for the start…it still feels weird to me that I’m always so close to the start line, when I’m solidly a middle of the pack runner…
Packet pick-up: Only held on race day. It was a small race, so there was only a small line to get the packet. I received a text the night before with my race number, so I just had to give the info to the kid at the desk, and I got my gear. The packet pick-up included my race number, two energy bars (I ate one before the race, it was tasty), and the race shirt.
Race shirt: Saucony, bordeaux color, good quality. Bonus for not being white! However, the shirt was a men’s/unisex size…somewhat understandable, since according to the site, there were only 707 runners in all three distances combined…so next time I’ll opt for the XS.
What I wore: compression leggings and a t-shirt.
Bag drop: NONE. I asked one of the people at packet pick-up if there was a secure place to store bags. They said there wasn’t. I assumed as such because I saw no info on the race site, but still…Normally this would have been fine, but since I was going straight to work after, I ended up wearing the shirt from the race, rolling up my extra shirt (which was much nicer and fit better…) and stuffing it in one of the GIANT pockets in my leggings, and tying my fleece jacket around my waist. (When I got to work, I used soap/water/paper towels and wiped my top half off, wore the clean shirt and jacket, and worked half a day, interviewing potential camp counselors in Hebrew. I was only a little smelly, so I consider this a success.)
Waiting at the start line!
Course: An out and back in Park Hayarkon. Scenic/pretty, crowd support from other runners on the course. Unclear if they closed off any lanes…meaning we sometimes had to share with bicyclists. Aside from the start and finish, there were no timing mats. There was very clear signage about the course route, and there were usually enough runners so that getting lost was basically a nonissue. The turnaround points were staffed, so it was impossible to miss them. Also, aside from a short but steep bridge that we ran across twice, the course is almost entirely flat.
Water stations: There was one water station, and as the course was an out and back, there were two options for water (but also there were water fountains along the route, so if you were thirsty and okay with losing some time, being thirsty was never an issue). The water stops were around 3+/6+km…not the 2.5/7.5km listed on the website, but for me this wasn’t an issue.
Bathrooms: Again, there were indoor, heated bathrooms in the start/finish area…but there were no port-o-potties along the course…which is par for the course for Israeli races, as I’ve seen. Again, this is a huge public park, so there were public bathrooms along the course…if you needed to answer nature’s call, there were options, but they weren’t listed on the race site, so if you needed to go, you either had to know where the bathrooms were in advance, or be lucky.
Medal: Small and cute. For a small-scale race I was a bit surprised that they gave out medals. The house shape is cute/thematic, but since there’s no year/date-related info, I can’t help but wonder if they bought in bulk and recycle the leftovers…
In conclusion: I enjoyed the Home Race 10k! If I’m in town next year, I’ll plan to run the 10k again. I’m not sure I’d run the half marathon, because as expected, while the event was very well-organized, there’s not a lot of energy out there on the course. That being said, I might run the half marathon if I was in PR shape, because due to the small race field, there’s a chance I could place in the top 10 women. With no Harlem Hill or Cat Hill, Park Hayarkon > Central Park…it’s just a shame there are so few races held here!