The Tel Aviv Municipality expects 35,000 runners to jam the streets of the city on March 15, when the fifth annual Tel Aviv marathon is held, making it the largest such event in the history of Israel.
Speaking at a press conference at the Tahana complex in south Tel Aviv on Monday, Mayor Ron Huldai touted the 2013 Tel Aviv Gillette Marathon as an event of great importance “not only for the city but also for Israel as a whole,” adding that it is in keeping with city efforts such as the expansion of bike lanes and the citywide bike rental service, intended to encourage more residents to get involved in sports and outdoor activities.
Billing it as a holiday (“hag marathon”) and a “non-stop party,” the Tel Aviv municipality sees the marathon as an integral piece in its plans to increase the city’s status as a sports-friendly city, and has invested at least NIS 12 million in the production of this year’s marathon.
The 35,000 expected runners will take run along seven different routes, with about 2,500 of them doing the full marathon and the rest running half marathons, 10k runs or shorter stretches. The production will require well over 1,000 police officers and 2,000 volunteers to provide security, and 4,800 traffic barriers will be set up across town before and during the race, the municipality said on Monday.
City councilman and head of the city sport council Alon Solar said the marathon has “international importance” for Tel Aviv, in that it will help efforts to promote the city’s offerings.
Like Huldai, he said that the marathon is part of the city’s campaign to increase local participation in sports among Tel Aviv residents.
According to the municipality, 25,000 people have already signed up for the run, including over 1,000 people from outside of Israel.
Among these will be professional runners who will fly in for the race and compete for the NIS 15,000 purse.