• Sarah Sechan

Virtual Kalaniyot Race – February 8, 2021

To say that I was deliriously happy to discover that the Kalaniyot race was returning this year is not hyperbolic. I love the Kalaniyot race (check out my race recaps here and here), I love Darom Adom despite my terrible seasonal allergies, and I am desperate for any sense of normalcy.

For anyone who hasn’t been keeping tabs on the COVID situation in Israel, we entered into our third national lockdown at the end of December. This meant no traveling more than 1km from our home, except for certain activities. These activities included running and going to therapy, so although the situation hasn’t been cheery, it’s been tolerable. But this post isn’t about me mulling over COVID and my first world problems–it’s about the Kalaniyot Race, which I firmly believe that everyone should participate (or spectate) in, to enjoy all of the wholesome fun!

While other races that have gone virtual let the runners choose their own route, the Kalaniyot Race is different. From February 8-12 runners can register for a time window on a particular day, pick up the race packet nearby, and come and run on marked trails. This way, everyone can maintain social distancing and enjoy the beautiful scenery–pretty much the only time I willingly go near flowers!

I already had a doctor appointment scheduled for the morning of February 8 and had been planning to take a sick day. Lior decided to join me for the 5K run, and we had a fun mid-week adventure. This adventure was extra special because the lockdown restrictions loosened on the morning of February 7, so this was our first taste of “freedom” in awhile. Spoiler alert: it was amazing!

Race DEtails

Cost: 40 shekels ($12.30) per person. It’s such a good deal, they’re practically paying people to run the race! (Ignore the cost of gas and the 1.5 hour commute, please…) A++, best race ever

Website: The website is all in Hebrew, but it lays out the information very clearly, and answered all of my questions! A+, super informative

Social media: I like the Darom Adom Facebook page which posted about the event. It’s a shame that there isn’t more marketing about the event, though I originally stumbled upon the Kalaniyot Race because a Facebook friend liked a relevant post, so I guess they get the info out to the people who matter? Sike–social media could be better, especially considering the event is sponsored by JNF/KKL. C-, perhaps the only not perfect thing about this race

Updates/tracking: No tracking for the event, and since I am super out of shape, I had no issue with this. Leading up to the race I received a few email and text updates, which helped assuage my concerns that the race would be cancelled due to the lockdown. A few days prior to the race we received an email that said we would get race-related details on Sunday, February 7. Sure enough, I received an email and a text with information about where to pick up the race packet, as well as a text with a link to Waze directions to the parking lot for the race. A+++, enough information to satisfy my anxiety

The race itself was more of a walk/run situation. The course was slightly different from the two previous years–either that or they added some large divots into the path. The trails were clearly marked–so clearly that even though I am directionally challenged, I did not get lost once! We ran on packed dirt, and although it was a bit hilly, I don’t consider the “trail” technical at all. As a bonus, we met some sheep and goats during the run! A+, but remember–you’re running to enjoy the scenery, not for a PR

Packet pick-up: We showed up to one of the packet pick-up locations, a few minutes from the race. The station was easily-located thanks to a red awning and signage. I showed up, presented the barcodes I received in my confirmation email, and got the packets. A, pretty simple

Goodies (and medal): In addition to our bibs, the race packet included a reusable semi-insulated picnic bag, a box of granola bars, a buff (the same one they gave away last year, but thanks to COVID I always run with a buff now, so this is a situation where I actually want multiples), and in lieu or a traditional medal, a bottle opener. I shall use it with pride!

Yay, swag!

After we ran, we went back to the car to collect our picnic supplies! Lior brought food from some of our favorite neighborhood stores, and we had a great meal in a kalaniyot field–we managed to find a patch of grass with no flowers and in a shaded area, which was lucky since the weather was perfect and sunny, and I forgot to bring sunscreen…

I forgot to document the food, so you will have to trust that our croissant sandwiches were as pretty as they were tasty (and they were).

After the race, we went to see Lior’s family for a belated birthday celebration. Happy birthday, Lior!

In Conclusion

The Kalaniyot Race will always be my favorite race in Israel. It’s a cute seasonal event that is unique to Israel, and the race doesn’t try to compete with international events. My goal is to run this race every year, and so far I’m off to a great start!

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