The annual Bible Marathon held on October 18 in Israel drew 4,000 athletes from all over the world who traced the ancient path ran by a Benjaminite during the battle between the Jewish people and the Philistines.

About 200 runners from 23 different countries, including Brazil, Russia, Singapore, Uganda, and US, joined the event. The race started in the city of Rosh Ha’ain and ended in Shiloh, reports Jewish Press.

It is a great honor to host the world’s most ancient running competition, here in the hills of Benjamin. —Israel Gantz, Head of Benyamin Regional Council

Israeli Adiso Oskano won the race and broke a record with a time of 3:02:42. He said he wanted “to test myself and the route of the run. It was tough, but fascinating.”

The head of Benyamin Regional Council, Israel Gantz, said, “It is astonishing to have international runners from all over, connecting to the roots of the Bible and running in the footsteps of the man of Benjamin.” He added that, “It is a great honor to host the world’s most ancient running competition, here in the hills of Benjamin.”

The first marathon was attributed to a legend where Greek soldier Pheidippides ran approximately 25 miles (42.195 kilometers) from Marathon to Athens to announce the Greek’s victory against the Persian army. It happened in 40 BCE and since then, people ran the same path and the word “marathon” was used to describe the long-distance race.

Meantime, the Bible Marathon started when, a few years ago, experts studied the Book of Samuel and read about one of the first runs recorded in history. A Benjaminite ran from the ancient city of Even Ha’Ezer (now Rosh Ha’ayin) to Shiloh to announce that the Israelites lost the battle against the Philistines. The man was a young King Saul.

“And a man of Benjamin ran from the battle and came to Shiloh on that day.” (1 Samuel 4:12)

Yosef Yekutieli, the founder of the Maccabiah games, measured the length of the course and found that it matched the length of the modern marathon which is 42 kilometers.

In an interview with Breaking Israel News, one participant from Pennsylvania, Avraham Hermon, said, “Everyone thinks the first marathon was when Pheidippides ran to Athens with the news of the great victory his people had over the Persians at Marathon in 490 BCE. But, in reality, it was many years earlier, in the Bible, in the Land of Israel.”

The Israel Marathon Association organizes the Bible Marathon. Association head Ofer Padan said it is among the fastest-growing running attractions, drawing thousands of athletes from around the world.

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