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Israel races vs NYC races

Most of the races I’ve run were in NYC, through New York Road Runners. I’ve run a few races elsewhere (Boston, MA; Lima, Peru; Tokyo, Japan, as well as a race organized by NYC Runs). So when I came to Israel and started running races, I had some expectations for how things should go. So far, I have run:

  1. A 10K in Givatayim, a suburb of Tel Aviv

  2. A half marathon in Haifa, Israel’s third-largest city

  3. The Tel Aviv Night Run, a 10k that’s Israel’s equivalent to the Brooklyn Half, in terms of publicity/hype

I do want to review the races individually, but first, the general differences in races:

  1. NO PORT-A-POTTIES ON THE COURSE. There were port-a-potties in the start areas, but I never saw any along the course. I did see several dudes go off to the side to pee during the Haifa half marathon…but what happens if you have to do #2? Ibuprofen is my Unofficial Sponsor for longer races and training runs, but still…sometimes there’s an emergency. This is an area where Israeli races can really improve. F– here. Can you probably walk into a gas station or some place on the way to use their bathroom? For sure. Should you have to? Absolutely not.

  2. Most of the races are run on the streets. There is a large park in Tel Aviv, called Park Hayarkon, and there are some races there, but it’s not like in NYC, where you can run a half marathon or even an ultramarathon in Central Park. This means that (I assume) a certain percentage of the race fees go toward permits to shut down the streets/etc.

  3. Race prices are reasonable! The Tel Aviv Night Run cost about $35. The Haifa half marathon cost about $50. The Tel Aviv Marathon costs $68 at full-price (for early bird), and $54 for Tel Aviv residents. (Maybe they saved money by not having port-a-potties…) Most races have a discount for residents of the city. That’s pretty cool!

  4. Race medals usually have the municipality’s logo on the back.

  5. Race shirts tend to be decent quality, and have gender-specific sizing.

  6. There are medals! I love a good race medal.

  7. Corrals are self-seeding. This is annoying.

  8. People sell bibs, and don’t hide it. This doesn’t seem to be a problematic practice in Israel, whereas in the US, it’s highly-contentious.

  9. There might be security to enter the start area for a race, but it’s not a runners-only area. Oftentimes, relatives/friends/whoever will hang out there with runners, until the event starts.

  10. Runners are predominantly male, but there’s a good spread of ages.

  11. Race websites are in Hebrew, and all of the race signage and announcements are in Hebrew. The exception are the bigger races, but even then, the registration pages aren’t always available in English.

  12. You often need to sign a health waiver to run a race, but you usually don’t need your doctor to sign any certificates/waivers.

  13. Races give out water bottles on the course, not cups.

  14. People wear the race shirt at the race…the rare exception is if you’re part of a running club.

  15. The races are super fun, they’re officially timed, and the courses don’t run too long/short.

In short, my main beef with Israel races so far is the lack of port-o-potties on the course. I think it’s negligent and overall bad form. In fact, the lack of port-o-potties would be enough to deter me from running anything longer than a half marathon in an urban setting, for obvious reasons…

So do your business in the port-o-potties before the race, pop some ibuprofen, and come join me!

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