Destinations Marathons

My First Marathon: Tiberias Marathon

My First Marathon
Written by Charlie

Today was the running of the Tiberias (Israel) Marathon. It was the 37th running of the marathon and 7 years since my first marathon that took place in Tiberias. I thought it would be a good time to review this and recount my experience there.

My First Marathon: 2007 Tiberias Marathon

Choosing Tiberias And Training

I began to run in late September of 2006 with the goal of one day running a marathon. My goal was to run just one marathon – those who have run one know how that can turn out. 🙂 I did not have a specific marathon in mind but started to train by just trying to run 3 times a week. Late in October, I found out that I had to go to Israel in early January and I found out that the Tiberias Marathon was being run while I was in the country. I knew I just had to run it! To make it even better, a friend of my dad’s was going with me and was a veteran marathoner.

For the training aspect, I had started to use the Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer for my training manual. It was perfectly laid out with a case study and examples and stories from those who followed the program. Reading their stories was very helpful in getting me to the starting line. At the time, my goal was to simply finish and I felt this book gave me the perfect way to do it. As for mileage, it was pretty easy for a new runner to handle with there only being 4 runs a week and the program topping out at 36 miles. I did have to chop a couple of weeks off at the beginning because of my shortened training period. So, I basically went from no running to a marathon in less than 18 weeks. That is definitely not the best approach but I didn’t know that at the time.

The Tiberias Pre-Marathon Experience

We arrived in Israel the day before the marathon and drove up to Tiberias. We stayed at the Prima Galil hotel which was just a couple of miles from the start/finish area. We checked in and headed down to pick up our packets and eat the dinner. Just like the Jerusalem Marathon, the pasta dinner was included in the marathon fee. Since this was my first marathon, I was not sure what to expect for any of the pre-race hoopla. My friend had run more than 10 marathons so he was telling me how this compared to other races.

When we hit the pasta feed, even I knew that this was not the typical pasta dinner. 🙂 The food was good enough but the sauce was really not more than a tomato puree of sorts. The real difference was the manner in which we got our food. There were no sitting areas and a mass of people that was supposed to be a line for the food. While we were in the line and about to get our food, people began to cut in front of us and take the food without saying anything. Now that we knew how to do it, we managed to fit right in. 🙂

The Tiberias Marathon

I still remember the way I felt when I woke up the morning of the race realizing that I was about to run 26.2 miles for the first time in my life! It really was an anxious feeling but one which I was very excited about. We made our way down to the starting line on a beautiful, sunny day. We did our stretches and I said goodbye to my friend who was going to try for 3 hours and 30 minutes. Officially, my goal was to finish. Secretly, I really wanted to break the magic 4 hour mark.

Since the marathon was an out and back, I knew I would see my friend on the way back. Because of that, I wanted to surprise him with my progress so I really pushed to hit the half-way point in 2 hours. That was not a smart move as it was faster than I was able to sustain. I ended up paying for it on the return. A stiff headwind came up that really started to work with my tired legs to break down my pace. Another part that did not help was the lack of crowd support for many of the miles between 6 – 20 (it took place on a highway outside of the city). With all of those factors at play, I did quite a bit of walking after mile 16.

It was a very emotional time. 🙂 I could not wait to finish and was hurting so much but would not allow myself to quit. When I came into the city limits again, the crowds began to pick up and the cheering really helped to get me the rest of the way in. I came up over the last little bump to see the finish line banner and was so thrilled! I crossed the line in 4 hours and 34 minutes. I really missed my secret goal of the 4 hours but I had finished a marathon! It was something that made me feel as if I had really accomplished a difficult task.

My First Marathon

Coming up over the little hill before the finish!

My First Marathon

Getting closer!

My First Marathon

The veteran marathoner with the new marathoner (me!)

After the Marathon

I had no idea how much pain I was going to be in during the days following the race! Everything hurt so bad the next day that I did not think I could get out of bed. I started talking about how I was never going to run one of these things again – it hurt too bad! Since then, I have come up with a rule for my wife – She is not allowed to listen to any of my complaints and race declarations in the three days following a marathon! 🙂

Would I do it again? YES! I plan on running the 2015 Tiberias Marathon. How about a little meet-up? It is a great marathon and they have been running it for 37 years now!

What was your first marathon? Do you have a first marathon coming up? I will never forget the experience and just wish I could recreate it every time!


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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.


  • Hi there – I am planning to run the Tiberias Marathon in Jan 2015. It will be my second full (Big Sur, CA)… and probably my last full 🙂 I am hoping to make it under 4 1/2 hrs. Hope to see and meet you there. Will be nice to run into someone from the states there 🙂

    • That sounds great, Tammy! I will definitely be there and we will definitely have to meet! The pasta dinner, from my first experience, is really quite a busy affair, so we could try to meet up at the expo first. I have your e-mail, so we will be in touch. Good luck with the training!