This race is sponsored by Hever (חבר, pronounced chever with a hard ch), a membership benefits company for people who are (or were) employed by the Israeli army beyond the mandatory service period. It’s a company that offers lots of benefits, including discounted tickets to various events/places, and a periodic sale of household goods, electronics, etc. To enter the race you need to have a Hever membership, or know someone who does. Lior’s parents are members and since they know I like running races, they mentioned the event to me. Lior decided he’d run the 5K race, while I wanted to run the 15K race as preparation for my half marathon, which is about a week later. I registered the two of us before Lior realized it meant he’d have to wake up early on the weekend, and we were good to go!
This promised swag bag may have influenced our decision to participate in the event…also, the way the race was marketed made it seem like it’s a bigger event than many Israeli races. Not quite the same level as the Tel Aviv Night Run, but not a small, local race either. In general, I prefer big races and the energy that comes with them…
I also enjoy the fact that in big races, I usually am not running alone at the end. The Hever race offers 5K, 10K, and 15K distances, with staggered start times and the same finish line…meaning that even if I am literally the last 15K runner on the course, I probably won’t cross the finish line alone.
This is my second 15K race. My first was the Ted Corbitt 15K, which I ran in 2017, a month after running the NYC marathon. According to Strava, my time was 1:33:51, and my notes helpfully note that this included a bathroom stop. Therefore, my goal for the race was to earn myself a 15K PR and not use the bathroom during the race.
I also planned to add an extra 3km after completing the race, to make it my final long run before my upcoming half marathon.
Price: 95 shekels, or $26.85. Not only is this a normal registration fee, but is the late registration fee. If I’d registered early, I would only have paid 75 shekels, or $21.20…and that doesn’t include a 10% discount if I paid using a Hever credit card, which would have brought the price down to $19.08. Next time, I’ll be registering early! Price: A
Website: When I opened the website on my phone, it showed different information vs when I viewed the website from my laptop. Including where the race is located. This is obviously problematic, so I emailed the race organization for clarification. Apparently I had stumbled upon the details for last year’s race, but with no clarification about the year, I had no way of knowing. Also, the website said one thing while the Facebook page listed a different event location. The customer service rep couldn’t give me enough updated information, only telling me that they were updating the site, and the details should be available later in the week. The next day, the website had an updated course map, and the day after that, they sent a text and posted to Facebook, to explain the changes.
This perfectly sums up the differences between races in Israel and in the US. In Israel, it’s perfectly okay to change the information 2.5 weeks before a race. It was annoying, but in the end, it worked out. Website: F initially, revised to a C+ because although in the end I found the information I needed, it annoyed me.
Publicity: The race was advertised online and I also received emails about it. The Hever site showed slightly different information–including the fact that the race swag included a medal. Publicity: B because the info on the Hever site was different from the race site
Transportation to race: Storytime! I started to pre-write parts of my race recaps, so that it will be easier to finish and publish blog posts quickly. So I pre-wrote that due to my earlier race start, I took a taxi. Lior read my blog draft, thought it was cute/anal retentive, and said that he could drive me to the start. This was perfect. We left the apartment at 5:20am, got to the race at 5:40am, and I had plenty of time to use a porta potty before lining up at the start. Lior, on the other hand, had to drive to a parking lot and make his way back to the start… A+, Lior is the best (and didn’t write this)
Weather: High 60s and cool at the start…which was before sunrise. At the end it was sunny and in the 70s (at least), and steadily getting hotter.
Time: Originally the race was supposed to start at 6:30am. On Wednesday, I received a text that due to expected high temperatures, the race would instead start at 6:00am. Ouch.
Start/finish area: It was happening! There was a mini expo, coffee before and after the race, and fruit and popsicles after. I couldn’t eat anything because it was too sweet and/or tart and I felt nauseous…after I run, I usually crave salty food. A
Packet pick-up: I chose to pick up my and Lior’s race packets prior to the race. The event organizers erected a large tent, and participants were able to pick up their gear up to two days prior to the event. I arrived with the health declaration forms and my ID (and a picture of Lior’s), and was in and out in two minutes. The process was smooth and well-organized. A+
Race shirt: The color of the shirt is lovely and I like that it’s not unisex…but the shirt fits weird. Sometimes I find athletic shirts a bit snug in the arms…that was not the case. I ordered an adult women’s small shirt, and it went down to my hip bones…just barely. And I’m 5’4/163cm. The shirt’s fit is fine (the sleeves are like unisex t-shirts, so no problems there), I just wish it was a bit longer. For now I’ll keep the shirt, but eventually I need to do a purge of my running shirts… B-
In addition to the shirt and drawstring bag (which is a standard race giveaway in Israel, if the race isn’t a small, local one), we got a large plastic bag (useful!) and a windbreaker with a retractable hood. I’m definitely bringing this to London with me, and think it will be the perfect top layer for running in the cold or rain.
It’s similar to the blue IKEA bags, but a bit sturdier. Will definitely reuse!
The lighting is weird…the jacket is black.
What I wore: tank top, shorts, sunglasses, running cap. Since I’m not a huge fan of the shirt, I don’t want the first time I wear it to be a 15km+ run, so I chose something more reliable.
Bag drop: Didn’t use it, but I think they offered one
Course: The course was really nice! We ran across Park Hayarkon, up north along the Mediterranean for a bit on an out and back, and then returned to the park. We ran along the south part of the park to the east side, where we did a loop, and then made our way back to the finish. I liked that there were different “sections” to the course (in the park, out and back along the sea, running straight, the loop section, and returning). My only complaint is that the course was 250m short–and I wasn’t alone in this complaint.
Water stations: There could have been more, but it was adequate. Weirdly, I only saw sports drinks at one of the first water stations…not super useful or needed yet!
Bathrooms: No porta potties, but the race was held almost entirely in Park Hayarkon, where there are bathrooms…except we rarely passed signs indicating where the bathrooms were…
Pictures: There were photographers on course…so pictures to come! I also showed up in one of Shvoongs instastories…
I’m the blurry person in the blue tank top!
Medal: The medal is different from the standard Israeli race medals. The dog tag idea is cute, since Hever is an organization for army employees…and the bottle opener makes it useful! A
The picture is flipped…oh well
Miscellaneous: Lior ran the 5K and our courses merged towards the end, so I had hopes that I would see him on the course and we would cross the finish line, holding hands. I kept an eye out for him, but sadly, got a text that he finished just as I was about to run through the finisher’s chute. Oh well, there’s always next time!
I received a text after the race with my time: 1:33:44! The course ran short, but technically I accomplished my goal of beating the time from my last 15K, AND there were no bathroom breaks on the course! But also…ouch, I was running faster post 2017 NYC Marathon than I am now…
The early start time destroyed me (we returned home, I showered, and then passed out without eating breakfast…Lior saved the day and went and got food), but I really enjoyed the race and definitely want to run it again–providing it doesn’t conflict with other races.
This year, the race sadly overlapped with Israel’s Beaujolais Half Marathon (and 12K and 5K)…I really wanted to run this race, but the logistics (it’s in the Gezer Region, outside of Tel Aviv, meaning that we either needed to rent an Airbnb or leave our apartment early) were a bad idea, given that we are flying to London in 3 days. I’m crossing my fingers that this will become an annual event–and that it won’t conflict with the Hever Race!