10 April 2019, 7am
Eilat Full Desert Marathon
Fri 29 November 2019
At first light the brownish-red Edom Mountains and the clear blue of the Red Sea are breath-taking. The weather is perfect: bright, cool and crisp. Excitement fills the air as runners talk, joke and get into their zone after long months of preparation.
400 runners from Israel and 30 other countries from around the world ready themselves for the challenge of 42.2 kilometres of trails: hours of ups and downs, sand, stones and sun – but also incredible desert scenery and the tranquility of the wide-open wilderness.
The race gets under way at 06.00. During the next hour and a half more and more eager runners dash off into the desert on a 10km course, a 5km and finally on the 21.1km half marathon.
The Desert Marathon is an entire weekend experience. The programme begins on Thursday and includes a family fun run, a festive parade with flags held proud by international participants and a pre-run pasta dinner. It continues with a lively Friday night after-party and various activities to soothe body and soul on the Saturday after the race.
Initiated by Marathon Israel – the leading provider in producing unique ‘full experience’ running events throughout the country – the Desert Marathon started out as a Half Marathon eight years ago but due to popular demand was extended to include a full marathon two years later. Many Israeli runners, who have discovered the beauty of trail running as a substitute to asphalt, return to Eilat year after year. The desert terrain and the hilly course add an extra challenge which seems to add to the race’s popularity. Race promoter Ofer Padan observes that: “the thousands of runners from Israel and abroad who come to Eilat prove that runners will make an effort when you offer an unforgettable running experience and unique content.”
The Mayor of Eilat, Meir Yitzhak Halevy, who participated in the 5km race, added: “I am excited to see the large number of runners and their families who have come to Eilat. Without doubt this is one of the most successful events the city has ever known.”
The winners of the full marathon were the German runner Sami David (2:44) and Poland’s Carolina Wisniewska (3:18) but the greatest excitement greeted local Eilat runner Shalom Azulai’s achievement in the half marathon as he broke the course record for the second year in a row, finishing with a time of 1:21. Antonina Reznikov won the women’s race in 1:26.
A marathon event is a great way to get to know a city, especially one as compact as Eilat. Throughout the year Eilat is a magnet for tourism thanks to its great weather, lovely beaches, water- and land-based activities, shopping, entertainment, restaurants, pubs and much more. Just a 3–4 hour flight from Europe, Eilat offers an attractive atmosphere – especially in the middle of of a European winter.