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Features Sea of Galilee Tiberias Marathon

01 April 2016, 7am

Over the years many runners from all over the world have run their best marathon times in the longest-running marathon in Israel

Runners’ high in an earthly low

Tiberias Winner Marathon
Fri 8 January 2016

At 210m below sea level the Tiberias Winner International marathon is the lowest marathon held anywhere on Earth. It is run along the shores of the Sea of Galilee (Kinneret in Hebrew), a deep blue harp-shaped lake situated in the Jordan Valley and surrounded by breathtaking scenery. The setting for many important events in history, this is a most fascinating area to visit with something to offer everyone — from water recreation to major historic sites.

Being run around the shore of Israel’s largest freshwater lake (55km in circumference), the Marathon offers a flat course with only three curves over its entire length. This at least partly explains why the course record of 2:07:30, set in 2012 by Frenchman Patrick Twambe, is so fast. The location and date of the marathon (early in January when temperatures are at their lowest) makes it a great opportunity for runners to break their personal best times.

The number of participants in the marathon has increased each year and in 2016 the number of finishers topped 2000 for the first time. The event includes a 10km run in which a few thousand more participate.

The race was founded in 1977 by the Israeli Athletic Association and a few long distance running coaches and is now the longest-running marathon in Israel. Since foundation it has been held every year without exception. The organising committee put their greatest efforts into the marathon race.

Over the years many runners from all over the world but particularly those from Israel have run their best marathon times in the Tiberias Marathon. Refreshment stations are placed every 2.5km some of which offer isotonic drinks. Every kilometre there is a DJ stand so that runners can hear music all the way along the course.

One of the unique features of the race is that slower runners can see the marathon leaders running in front of them at several points during the race. Keeping them in sight in this way seems to increase the mass runners’ motivation.

When runners come to Tiberias they find that the whole city is dressed up in special holiday costume just for this event. The hotels are fully geared up to receive the marathon runners. Pre-race briefings are held wherever they may be staying and information boards and posters give information about the marathon course and race instructions. The race press conference is held the day before with the elite runners in attendance and later on there is the pasta dinner. All runners and a large part of the city’s population attend the race EXPO.

Race day starts early as the runners warm up and ready themselves for the starting gun. The roads are cleared: only the lead cars and TV bikes are allowed on the road.

In the finish zone, after receiving their medals, runners can choose from a range of refreshments including soft drinks, hot soups, fresh fruits, energy snacks and more.


1 Teferi Kebede BALCHA ETH 2:15:31
2 Dereje Tadesse RAYA ETH 2:19:53
3 Samuel Getachew DEMIE ETH 2:22:12
4 David Barmasai TUMO KEN 2:23:52
5 Malkamo JAMBAR ISR 2:24:02
1 Edinah Jerotich KWAMBAI KEN 2:51:16
2 Svetlana BACHMEND ISR 2:56:23
3 Hagar CNAANI ISR 2:56:47
4 Migel Atias YODFAT ISR 2:58:04
5 Bikaya MANTAMER ISR 3:00:03

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