Yesterday I ran my favorite race in Israel so far (and one of my favorite races I’ve ever run), the Kalaniyot 10K! For some background information about the race and its significance, click here to read my previous post.
Note: I want to be more active in the Tel Aviv running scene and improve my general fitness, so I’m attending adidas Runners events. Of course, the evening before the race, the workout had a large strength training component (squats/lunges/stair steps). The morning of the race was fine, but right now it hurts to stand up, sit down, bend over, and exist…
Price: 95 shekel/$26.25…not only is this a good price for a race in Israel…but this is the late registration fee! Early registrants only paid 80 shekel/$22.11. After running the race and seeing the event offerings, I think this was money well spent! Value for money: A+
Website: The race website is entirely in Hebrew, but it was easy to navigate…including offering a link to directions to the race location, via Waze. Website: A for me…thanks, ulpan!
Publicity: If it weren’t for a sponsored Facebook post, I wouldn’t have learned about this event. I didn’t find it listed on any of the local running event websites. I guess I should thank Facebook for mining my data? But this was a huge missed opportunity! Naturally, the Facebook post was also written in Hebrew, meaning that people who don’t speak Hebrew might skip the info, completely missing the event. Publicity: A for me, I guess? I mean, I found the race…but in general, a C because many people may have missed out!
This brings up a recurring issue–I don’t mind that running races are almost always only listed in Hebrew. After all, I live in Israel…it makes sense that races are publicized in Hebrew. Furthermore, I’m lucky that my Hebrew is strong enough that I understand everything. But from a marketing perspective, this is a missed opportunity. I have no idea how many Anglo runners are looking for race information and don’t find enough/are intimidated; I might be screaming into a void. But if I’m not, even if it’s a niche group (English-speaking runners for whom Hebrew is a barrier to entry), races are missing out on these peoples’ money and participation.
How I got to the race: Car! My boyfriend wanted to join me, so we planned a post-race picnic, to take advantage of the scenery. I woke up at 5:10am to make coffee, and by 6:20am, we were on the way! On race day morning I’m usually not nervous about the race itself, just that something will happen and I won’t arrive on time. My boyfriend noted this, saying, “You’re a combination of uptight and suppressed rage. It’s very cute.” I guess it’s nice that someone thinks so?
We arrived to the race event by 7:25am and parked in a recently-plowed field near the start area. It was a very smooth process (aside from driving on the thick grass…the car was not super happy about that). Transportation: A
Weather: Clear skies, low-mid 50s…perfect running weather! I applied sunscreen but at the last minute decided to run without sunglasses. Weather: A
Time: 8:00am. With several race heats (15K, 10K, 5K, 2K, and 300 meter), the 8:00am start time makes sense…but I would have loved to have slept in a bit…
The start area was a mini festival, and I loved it! There were plenty of port o potties (but I had to open 3 before I found an unlocked stall without a peeing man…), some food trucks (including an ice cream truck playing Christmas jingles, which was a bit weird), an area with water/coffee/fruit/cookies, and most importantly, a face painting station! There were women painting various flower designs, and I had to join in the fun!
I loved the start/finish area, it was very well organized and very festive! The event was sponsored by KK”L (Keren Kayemet L’Yisrael, the Israeli arm of JNF/The Jewish National Fund), which explains how I was able to spend so little and get so much in return. Start/finish area: A+, there should be face painting at every race!
Packet pick-up: Offered the day before the race, and at the start area prior to the race. There was a short line, I told the attendant my bib number (which I received via text message earlier in the week), and was done. Packet pick-up: A, very efficient
Race shirt: None. I was jealous of the race race volunteers’ nice red shirts. Instead, we received a drawstring bag with the race info, and compression arm sleeves! I’ve never seen a race give out arm sleeves, so while I did want the shirt, I guess it was nice to get something new. I saw other people with buffs, which to be honest, I would have preferred…oh well! The arm sleeves seem like they’re decent quality, but the bag already has some holes in the side stitching… Race swag: B+
What I wore: Race t-shirt (from the Givatayim 10K), compression shorts. I was a bit chilly at the start, but warmed up quickly. I saw people covered from head to toe, and they must have been suffering.
Bag drop: Not sure if it was offered…I didn’t need it, so I didn’t look.
Before we started the race, the announcer noted how just a few months prior, the fields surrounding us were burnt and smelled like fire, but the area is resilient, just like its people. The race is held near the border with Gaza, and during the summer, Gaza residents sent incendiary balloons into Israel, which burned much of the area. Those burnt fields renewed themselves (partly thanks to this winter’s abundant rainfall), and it was inspiring to stand in this renewed area.
The course was through some fields in the area. The race was 99% packed dirt, that wasn’t very even. This is an agricultural area, meaning that tractors and 4-wheelers drive in the area. I spent much of the race keeping an eye on the ground, making sure I didn’t twist my ankle. There were a few hills, but nothing unmanageable. In general I do prefer urban races run on streets, but the scenery was absolutely beautiful, so I can’t complain. I wanted a unique cultural experience, and I got it! The kalaniyot weren’t very present until the end of the course, but they were still beautiful!
My only complaint is that the course ran short. The results say it was a 9.7km course, but my Garmin timed it at around 9.66km. This is the first time I’ve run a course that was short, and given how fancy/high level of the event, this was surprising. If I’d been trying for a PR, I would have been disappointed. Course: B (due to unevenness and the fact that the course ran short)
Water stations: There were 3 water stations: 2.5km, 5.1/6.3km (at the start of the out and back), and 7.5km. This was sufficient. The water was distributed in plastic water bottles…this is so wasteful…paper cups would be better. I don’t know why the races don’t use paper cups…maybe because handing out water bottles is easier/less labor intensive for volunteers? A for frequency, F for environmental friendliness
Bathrooms: None on the course, as usual…true, this course was much more rural than most of the races I run, and on most parts of the course it was possible to dash off to find a bit of privacy to do your business… Bathrooms: F/C+ (since I guess nature can also be a bathroom…but I’m happy I didn’t need that option)
Pictures: Free, and they were available a few hours later! Now that’s service! This gives you a general idea of the course! Pictures: A+
Medal: Based on what I saw on the website (from the 4th edition of the race), the medals looked cute, and I was looking forward to getting one. The ribbon was the standard blue/white and the medal was attached to the ribbon with a clasp, so it was a bit generic and inexpensively-made, but that’s how all of the small-town race medals are in Israel. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised to see that this year’s medal received an upgrade:
Compare to 2 years ago:
The sponsorship is much more present on this year’s medal (including a logo on the back, which is extremely common in Israeli races), and in turn, the medal is much nicer. I appreciate that the medal is custom-designed for the event, and looks pretty and unique. (It would be nice if the kalanit on the medal was red…but I assume adding color to medals raises the price significantly…oh well.) Medal: A
After the race, we had our planned picnic, which was wonderful! Since we don’t know the area and I wanted to stay near the bathrooms, we opted to have the picnic in a field by the start/finish area, and it was perfect. I was too hungry to post pictures of the delicious food we ate. 🙂
I was excited for the Kalaniyot 10K, but the race managed to exceed my expectations! Although it wasn’t perfect (uneven path and a course that ran short), the experience was amazing, and I can’t recommend this race enough! I plan to make this race/picnic an annual event.