Tel Aviv Marathon After Desert Storm

The New York Times Sunday April 14, 1991

MARATHON; Despite the Effects of War, Tel Aviv Will Run Its Race


Published: April 14, 1991


The Persian Gulf war and Saddam Hussein’s Scud missile attacks on Israel not only caused physical damage but also disrupted the Hapoel Sports Association’s preparation for the 11th annual Tel Aviv Marathon here Monday. But the organizers of the event have been as determined as their countrymen were during the bombings that life should go on with minimum concession to the fear and dislocations of war.


The marathon, originally scheduled for March 14, was postponed for a month at the urging of numerous Israeli participants. Understandably, not knowing when and where the next Scud would strike caused severe apprehension about the race. Moreover, 30 percent of the participants were called into the army because of the looming possibility that Israel would enter the war.


The race course, however, remains unchanged. The Scud attacks did little damage along the route. A few buildings were hit at Rokach Avenue at the 10-kilometer mark and some others were hit at Aba Hillel Street at the 15-kilometer mark. As always for the marathon, a total of 700 Israeli security people, police officers, border patrol officers, and Defense Force soldiers will patrol the course.


Field Will Be Smallest


But race director Glora Glazer and Avigdor Dagon, Hapoel’s director of international relations, are quick to point out that the race has never been subjected to a terrorist attack. They are confident this year will be no different.


Nevertheless, the number of runners is expected to be the lowest in the race’s 11-year history. Usually 2,500 to 3,000 runners participate, 12 to 15 percent from abroad. This year there will be approximately 1,500 entrants with only 15 runners from abroad.


The Tel Aviv event has never been a big draw for elite athletes, war or no war. “In midspring, world class runners do not approach the Tel Aviv Marathon starting line,” Dagon said. “They can be found racing in the London and Boston marathons, where the prize money is greater.” Hapoel awards $1,500 to the first male finisher and $1,000 to the first female finisher. Boston offers $55,000 each to the men’s and women’s champion.