Lior Diklshpan has run in 18 marathons but his next race carries special significance. That’s because the Jewish Agency Israel fellow to George Washington University Hillel is taking nine students to Jerusalem to run in the city’s fifth annual marathon on March 13.
“For me it’s bringing a small dream into life — to take people to do something that’s my biggest passion probably. To run marathons and to do it together,” Diklshan said.
With a background in personal training, Diklshan has been helping participants create personalized training regimens for their athletic needs and the type of track they registered for. Two students are running in the 26.2 mile (42.2 km) full marathon; the rest are running in either the 13.1 mile (21.1 km) half marathon or 10K.
Jerusalem’s hilly terrain makes for a uniquely challenging course regardless of the level of participation.
“It’s going to be very tough for them because it’s lots of hills. But it’s great,” said Diklshan. “They’ve been training for the past four or five months. When I was living in Israel I was managing gyms and I had my own running teams and I’m certified to train for these things so I helped some of them create a workout regimen and they told me how they feel. As part of it we have workouts that we do in the morning. Some come. Some don’t.”
GW sophomore and Hillel Taglit-Birthright Israel intern Jenna Friedberg, 20, recently participated in Tough Mudder – an obstacle course in Virginia that includes endurance tests such as jumping through a ring of fire into a water tank. She said that Lior helped her train for the event and that she is looking forward to the Jerusalem marathon, which will be her third trip to the country.
“I was just in Israel in December through January. I was there over my winter break and I made a bunch of friends and I was living in Jerusalem and I’m really excited to go back. My friends are going to come to the race and watch me, so I’m definitely excited for that,” said Friedberg.
Participants needed to raise $3,000 to cover the flight, hotel and marathon registration, with the rest of the funds going to SHALVA – The Association for Mentally & Physically Challenged Children in Israel. They will visit the Jerusalem headquarters of SHALVA to see the special needs children their funds are helping. At the marathon, they will represent Team SHALVA.
The eight other Jerusalem marathon runners from GW who will be joining 2,500 runners from around the world are Roy Zukoff, Jacob Roth, Logan Miller, Julie Buchsbaum, Juliette Bergwerk, Fernando Zambrano and Eitan Bender.
The complete course starts at Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, passes through Mount Scopus and the Old City, and ends at Sacher Park. After the race, Diklshan plans on taking the students to Mahane Yehuda market that bustles with last-minute shoppers before the sun sets for Shabbat. On Saturday, the group will walk around the Old City.
“For me the best way to explore and find out about a place is through your legs,” said Diklshan.