Israel welcomes athletes to discover how its varied landscapes provides unforgettable sports challenges, while its year-round mild weather means it can host international events any time of year.
Cycling is one sport that has gathered speed recently: Israel boasts some 1,700 competitive cyclists, who invite their counterparts from abroad to join them in a number of international events. Prime among these is the annual January Tour de Dead Sea, in which hundreds of riders chose from four routes along the coast of the world’s lowest and saltiest body of water. In January 2008, organizers hope cyclists from Israel and across the globe will circumnavigate the lake together with a contingent from Jordan, which bounds the Dead Sea on the east.
Etgarim, an association sponsoring recreational experiences and competitive events for special-needs athletes, invites visitors to a memorable cycling event: the annual Wheels of Hope, the largest mass bicycle ride in Israel (with 7,000 riders in 2007). Wheels of Hope takes place during the spring holiday of Shavuot in the Jezreel Valley, in conjunction with a host of other special events and touring options to celebrate the season.
If running is your passion, Israel’s most challenging cross-country race is an annual springtime highlight. You can run full-circle around biblical Mount Tabor, a distance of almost 12-k and including a challenging climb, or enjoy the 4-k walk. There’s also a 2-k to 4-k run for kids. The annual Gilboa March also takes place in spring, featuring a two-day, 20-k trail, as well as an 11- and 5-k “walk for families.” The explanations of Mount Gilboa’s biblical sites and stunning vistas you’ll get along the way are a special attraction of this event.
Spring-like weather is the norm in January, during the International Tiberias Marathon. What an incredible experience it is to test your mettle alongside hundreds of runners from around the world on the (mostly flat) course around the scenic southern shoreline of the Sea of Galilee. Still getting into shape for the full marathon? Come anyhow! The Tiberias Marathon also offers a 10-k run.
Israel’s famous northern lake is too inviting to stay on shore. That’s how the Sea of Galilee Swim has become Israel’s largest amateur sporting event. It takes place in the fall, with competitive events including the 5-k Open Water Championship, as well as a 1.5-k course.
Israel’s biggest international sporting event takes place every four years: It’s the World Maccabiah, which showcases the athletic skills of both younger and masters participants in a variety of fields including basketball, swimming, golf, soccer, tennis, track and field, gymnastics, volleyball and more. The games are a great reason to visit Israel; before or after you see the sights, you can cheer on your favorite athlete or team during the parade at the thrilling opening ceremony and of course, root for them at the competitions.
Look for more dates of upcoming events, registration information and other helpful details on these websites: