We’re now in the height of the Israeli racing season, meaning that less than a week after the Tel Aviv Half Marathon, I’m racing again! When I was searching online for races, the Eilat Night Run caught my attention for a few reasons:
I don’t have to wake up before dawn to get to the start line
It’s in a part of Israel I don’t often visit
…did I mention that I get a full night’s sleep?
During race week, I attended three adidas Runners workouts, and picked up the coveted adidas Runners shirt! I ran two interval workouts and one temp run. They were all hard, and I pushed myself way more than I would have if I’d run alone.
Background info about Eilat
Eilat is the southernmost city in Israel. It is known for the following:
Diving/snorkeling/playing with dolphins
Proximity to Egypt and Jordan (for tourism purposes, this is the best way to get to the Sinai Peninsula (more diving and cheap vacations) and Petra
Coral reefs and underwater observatory!
TAX-FREE SHOPPING…this one is a big deal for Israelis, because we have a high VAT (value-added tax)
Eilat is definitely a tourist city, but the level of English speaking is not the same as Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. This was one of the few times where I felt that my Hebrew was noticeably better than those around me…
Picture taken from my hostel window. As you can see, the whole tax-free thing is a big deal.
Price: 75 shekel/$20.70. This is the cheapest race I’ve run so far! Of course, I had to take a 5+ hour bus ride to/from the race and rent a hostel room, so when you factor all of those things in, the price is around $100. I also paid for a motel for the Haifa Half Marathon and the Dead Sea Half Marathon, so it’s not a huge issue. Value for money: A (just for race…C when factoring in the bus and hostel).
Website: The race website was only in Hebrew, and it had a bit less information than I’m used to. In the end, it was sufficient. Website: B
Publicity: I told some coworkers about the race and their response was: “Eilat has a night run?” If I hadn’t found the race listed on shvoong’s race calendar, I would have thought the same. Once I liked the event on Facebook, I received plenty of information. Publicity: B-
Transportation to race: My boyfriend didn’t want to accompany me had to work and couldn’t join me, and I didn’t feel like renting a car, so bus, it was! The Tel Aviv<->Eilat line works well enough. There were the usual trashy people who smoke cigarettes on the bus, people having a techno dance party in the back, etc. The bus driver was nice and funny, and he got us to Eilat in one piece, so it went well. I should note that this was impressive, for reasons you’ll understand below. Transportation: C because riding on a cramped bus is never fun, but the experience itself wasn’t terrible.
I stayed at The Little Prince Hostel. I chose this place because it was cheap, had decent reviews, and was in between the Central Bus Station and race event. It was the right choice for me. There are a few flights of stairs to reach the hostel and it’s near several bars, so if stairs/accessibility is an issue or you’re very sensitive to noise, this isn’t the place for you. I was woken up in the middle of the night by weird noise, but went right back to sleep. The place wasn’t luxurious, but I was only there for one night and traveled alone, so it was fine for me. As an added bonus, when I checked in, the woman quickly realized I wasn’t a tourist. Nice!
Weather: At first I regretted my decision to only stay in Eilat for one evening. Was I missing out? However, this was the weather when I arrived:
During parts of the drive south, visibility was incredibly poor. I was both relieved to not be driving and bummed that I wasn’t going to get nice beachy weather. Weather: C…oh well, can’t win ’em all
Time: 8:05pm…not too bad!
Start/finish area: This was just okay. I got a bit turned around on the way there, caught up in the 2.5km group, which started 35 minutes before the 10k. The area was just okay. Start/finish area: B-
Packet pick-up: Packet pick-up was held at Ice Mall, one of the race sponsors and also the start/finish area. I chose to walk, and it was a solid 25 minutes, where I walked past a small airport, and fancy expensive hotels with terrible views. It was a bit depressing. The mall itself was whatever, but at least it was easy to find the packet pick-up location. The packet included my race bib, shirt, drawstring bag (with a separate zippered area with a headphone opening, the smallest bag of pretzels I’ve ever seen, and flashing pins to wear during the event. Packet pick-up: C- for location, B+ for swag
Overall nice quality, and I like the neon yellow!
Race shirt: Unisex and size 18, “which is the same as small”. This means the shape is a bit boxy. However, I like the color. Night Run shirts should be obnoxiously bright. Take note, Tel Aviv Night Run… Shirt: B for lame fit
What I wore: Race shirt and compression shorts. Running tights would have been okay, but I didn’t bring any. After wanting the adidas Runners shirt for so long, I get weird wearing it at the race. This was more of a local event…plus, I didn’t want to wear black at night. This was the right choice.
Bag drop: I didn’t see any info for this. It’s a bummer, because if I had the option, I definitely would have checked a jacket. Bag drop: F
Course: Did you know Eilat has hills? NEITHER DID I. Sure, Eilat is surrounded by mountains, but the city itself seemed flat…in the central, touristy areas. Anyway, the course can be broken up into 2km segments:
Km 1-2: Pretty easy! I maintained a good pace with minimal effort.
Km 3-4: What is happening?! Km 4 was over 7 minutes…which is slow, even for me. I wanted to run a sub-1 hour 10K, and now I doubted I could do this.
Km 5-6: A bit better. At least I didn’t want to die.
Km 7-8: What goes up, must come down! Whereas before I was struggling up hills, now I was careening down them. I haven’t hit those paces (I’m flatter ground) with such little effort in ages.
Km 9-10: These were like Km 1-2, but with an added challenge. Around Km 3 (the hills), the course split up a lot. So for much of these last 2 kilometers, I was running alone. On an open course. This wasn’t on streets, so I only had to dodge pedestrians. A lot of pedestrians. If I hadn’t accidentally walked most of this course prior to the race, I might have gotten lost, because the signage wasn’t great. And if I hadn’t worn the race shirt, course volunteers might not have recognized that I was part of the race.
See those splits?!
In the end, I ran 9.97km in 59:50. That discrepancy is likely due to the fact that runners cut the sharp curbs/corners pretty frequently. There were lots of traffic circles with hitting edges, so this was hard to avoid. But it means that I did hit my sub-1hr goal!
Water stations: There were three, and they were pretty evenly spaced. The water bottles’ flip tops weren’t pre-opened, so I just unscrewed the whole cap to drink. I only dumped water on myself once, which all things considered isn’t bad.
Bathrooms: I’m not sure why I even mention this anymore. Of course there were none. I also didn’t see port o potties in the start/finish area, but I assume people just went into the mall to do their business. Bathrooms: D–
Pictures: Free, but there weren’t many.
Medal: Pretty nice! There’s no year on the medal, so I wonder if they bought in bulk and will recycle them next year…Medal: A if it’s only for 2019, C if they reuse it
After the race, there were performances by the Shalva Band (who competed to represent Israel in Eurovision but dropped out because they would have had to perform on Shabbat) and Noa Kirel. I stayed for a few of Shalva’s songs, but left early because I was cold.
The Eilat Night Run is a fun event, but the 10K has hills that really affected my overall pace. The 5K course skips those hills, so if you hate hills, run that race instead. I didn’t like how the last 1.5km were essentially me running alone in the dark. The race definitely wasn’t terrible, but I’m not sure I’ll run it again. I want to diversify my race calendar, and will probably want to run a different race next year. I would register last-minute if the forecast said there will be great weather in Eilat. Unless you’re already in Israel and want to take a trip to the south/Petra/Sinai, it’s not worth traveling for this race. I’m glad I ran because I enjoyed the experience, but since it’s difficult to get to Eilat, I doubt this will be an annual event for me.