My Marathon in Bethlehem

Beyond Boundaries

“Darkness is your candle. Your boundaries are your quest.” 


We all have boundaries, on some level. They play an essential part in society and make differentiation possible, but the boundaries we learn from society can also prevent us stepping out of ‘strict truths’ we create for our world.

The ‘Right to Movement’ campaign organises an annual marathon in Bethlehem, Palestine (in the occupied West Bank of the Palestinian territories), to highlight the on-going Israeli obstacles to freedom of movement.

In April I travelled there to take part in the marathon, to defend and advocate for the human rights of not just Palestinians, but people everywhere. Being there was also my on going own journey and development on a physical, mental and spiritual level.

Mid January 2016 I decided to take part in the marathon (that’s 26 miles) – giving myself just under three months to train.

My training started in February and I was doing two or three 5-7 mile runs a week. When I realized I had five weeks I quickly upped my training to 10-13 mile runs once a week and maintained the 5-7 mile runs twice a week. Two weeks before the race I hit 17 miles, which I did twice. That was the grand sum of my training.

I’m fascinated by the mind, and mental endurance. The ability we all have to exercise and develop inner strength, mental stability and confidence to deal with things.

I think mental endurance is a mind muscle, it can grow and develop – It can be strained and pulled. So it makes sense that we have to look after it, train it and nurture it.

The people I met in Palestine humbled me. They have been stripped of their rights, some of their homes, their access to community activities and their education but irrespective of the difficulties and challenges they are unbelievably strong-minded.

A complex web of checkpoints and roadblocks and a wall (which eventually will be 700km long), built primarily to ‘separate Palestinians from Israel and the Israel settlers make it sometimes impossible for Palestinians to travel within the Palestinian Territories. Farmers whose land is now behind the wall or barriers are required to apply for ‘visitor permits’ that Israel regularly rejects.

What surprised me most when I was there was the way people continued peacefully with their day-to-day activities whilst armed soldiers looked on. I guess that’s part of the inner strength – to keep going no matter what.

The day of the marathon came and we all stood at the start line preparing to run through the streets of Bethlehem along the sides of the wall and past the refugee camps.

Three refugee camps, 25-per-cent unemployment and a huge concrete wall which will be two times the height of the Berlin wall and four times longer, cutting the landscape in half is Bethlehem’s day-to-day reality.

I didn’t train anywhere near as much as I should have. A combination of the hills, the heat and the kids handing me dates that they probably passed between each other first gave me a severe case of runners belly.

However, mind over matter I completed it, and it truly is mind over matter after about 15km. I ran most of it and a very slow jog the last six or so miles, apart from the last 100 meters that of course I sprinted. It took me five and a half hours to complete.

Everything you do counts, any small or big thing. It’s all part of our own individual journey. Everything we do inevitably effects and creates the world we live in.

Coming home from Palestine I consider more and more what I buy and where I buy it and whom I’m supporting or affecting in my actions.

We really do need to stop letting idiots rule the world and start looking after each other better.

Don’t leave it for others, be part of the bigger picture in life.

“Run from what is comfortable”- Rumi