Gush Etzion, Matan, race, running

Meet the New Family Runner

Matan just completed his first 5k race…and he dragged us along for the ride. About two months ago, Matan suddenly decided he wanted to start running. He left the house a few times and went for short runs. Then he heard about the Alifut Gush Etzion, and he begged us to sign him up.

10 years ago our neighbor, Yonatan Segal, started a race in memory of his father. The race, since then, has turned into quite an event and this year they had hundreds of people turn out. The race includes a number of categories (5k and 10k runs, bike rides, a triathalon) and more. We’ve never felt compelled to join in….until Matan came on the scene.

So, when he asked us to sign him up, we figured that he couldn’t really just go and run the race by himself. And Josh and I got into the act as well. Josh bought Matan some proper running shoes and the two of them started training. Matan wanted to run the 10k in the beginning, but a running friend recommended that he would feel better about himself if he started with a 5k.. I planned to bring up the rear by walking the 5k behind them (you won’t find this girl running very far). So that’s what we did.

The event was simply fantastic. How often do you get to participate in a run that takes place on Derech Ha’avot – the path that Avraham Avenu took on his way to Har HaMoriah followed by generations of Jews on their way to the Bet Hamikdash? The scenery was breathtaking and the significance of the location was not lost on this walker.

Matan got his number and was ready to go. He ran the 5k in 28 minutes and had a smile on his face when he finished. I was the only walker of the entire event, it turns out, but I managed to drag along a friend and her baby who had come to watch her husband run. Walking on the trail with the stroller, we were yelled at about two dozen times from bikers speeding past (“Get off the trail!” “What are you doing here?” “Move over!”) but we took it in stride and kept moving. We also enjoyed having one runner worry about the sun the baby was getting, and hearing some encouraging words from others as we kept walking.

At the end of the event, there was an awards ceremony. Josh and I would have gone home, but Matan wanted to stay and I’m certainly glad that we did. They started off the ceremony with a special kind of award. We have a school in the area that is for children with Downs syndrome and other disabilities, and they were at the race cheering everyone on. The ceremony opened with the emcee calling the name of every single disabled child in the group and giving them a certificate and a medal. They were grinning from ear to ear and dancing as they received their medals. Simply beautiful.

Then, they gave out the awards for each of the first place winners in an array of categories. It was a very warm environment, with people cheering for the winners. Yarden Frankl (pictured here with Yonatan Segal) won his age group, and we enjoyed yelling for him.