Home > Uncategorized > The Nike Night Run in Tel Aviv

The Nike Night Run in Tel Aviv

(Guest post by Stace)

Most of you know that Tracy and I have been on a running program for some time. We started with the excellent Couch-to-5k program and progressed from there. We aren’t really running together because our programs aren’t really similar, but we’re both doing it and have been doing it for a couple years. It has been great for us, although I started out hating it. What changed my mind was running in my first “real” race. Going from training mostly by myself, mostly in the rain, mostly at night, to suddenly being a part of this giant pack of people all pushing themselves and each other to become better. That feeling was pretty irreplaceable and it changed my attitude towards running for good. Since my first race I’ve done a dozen or so, some 5ks but mostly 10ks, and I’m working towards half-marathons soon.

I was lucky enough to have been informed of the Nike Night Run prior to our arrival in Israel. A coworker of mine broadcasted it to our team in Yakum and I enlisted his help to register me. Most of the registration material was totally in Hebrew, and moreover was usually in the form of a picture of some kind so I couldn’t even copy/paste the letters into Google Translate. So I have to thank Itay Feit, Pavel Mikhlin and Eran Tamari for helping me out at various times to know what the heck was going on.

The Nike Night Run is a yearly run in downtown Tel Aviv, from Rabin Square all the way around HaYarkon Park. The map of the course is here if you’re interested. The run begins at 8pm, which is unusual but not too crazy. What *is* crazy is the sheer number of people in the race (over 15,000) and the fact that you are required to wear the race shirt in order to approach the start line for the race. So you have a giant mass of people, almost all of them wearing the race shirt, running in a herd for over six miles. It was a quite surreal experience. There were several things that stood out about this race to me.

  • The number of bullhorns per capita was off the charts. There were people up on risers just about everywhere, bellowing at people in Hebrew and, rarely, English. I imagine most of what they were saying was trying to keep people from wandering off or forming lines in the wrong places and such. In Israel, making signs that say “stand here” is just a guarantee that nobody will stand there except the expatriates. You pretty much have to bellow instructions constantly in order for people to do what you want.
  • The number of puking participants was also off the charts. The average participant in this race didn’t really look any worse or better than in the typical American footrace, but apparently these folks were into punishing themselves a lot more than I had experiences. I saw no less than 5 people chowder on the side of the course. The hilarious example of this was the guy that was hurling a little bit every ten seconds or so, and didn’t even stop to do it. It got to where people running around him were yelling at him, presumably to slow the heck down and move away from the course in order to chunder. I passed that guy as soon as possible and put the horrible sounds of his self-torture out of my life.
  • I also ran past several people that sounded, from their breathing, to be in the middle of some sort of cardiac event. This is not okay, people. If you aren’t prepared to run a full 10k, you should be prepared to slow down and walk part of it. In every race I’ve been in, I’ve seen people walking because they just couldn’t quite hack the full run, which is fine. It’s better than elevating your heart and breathing rate beyond what you can handle.
  • They had a DJ booth every kilometer, right next to a giant jumbotron that indicates what kilometer you were starting. This was a pretty cool feature of this race. The main issue was that it seemed like half of the DJs were playing “Party Rock”  on loop which got really old after about the third time. But the runners who were approaching the DJ booth would start clapping along with the music, which was kinda cool. A couple people would even stop and boogie a bit before jumping back into the runstream and moving on.
  • There was a ghastly amount of plastic waste associated with this run. I should have taken some pictures of the water stations. Basically they would hand you a smallish plastic water bottle, and people would take a hit from it and then either a) cast it aside, or b) spray everybody around them with it, then cast it aside. I was absolutely shocked at the number of bottles being thrown by the wayside, and I finished in the front half of the race pack. It could have only gotten worse.
  • The egress routes from the race were very poorly planned. First of all, it took me a full 20 minutes to get away from the immediate vicinity of the finish line. People were shuffled into these narrow lines to pick up their medals, another (giant this time) bottle of water, and a granola bar. After that mess, I needed to go south to go back to Bob and Fara’s place so I could get out of Tel Aviv. The only way to go south without going way out of my way was to re-enter the stream of runners and gradually work my way from the inside of the stream to the outside. Then I finally made my escape. But my feet were really pissed about it.
We won’t be here next fall when the 2012 version of the race takes place, and I’m not entirely sure I would run it again if we were. But it was an interesting experience and I’m glad I went. Next up: the Tel Aviv Half-Marathon in March. I think Tracy will probably run a race on that day as well, length TBD. Wish us luck!
Here is the official race video for the 2011 Tel Aviv Nike Night Run
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  1. Chris Schardein
    November 8, 2011 at 15:59

    That sound like quite an endeavor! From the looks of the crowd at the beginning/start, I’m not sure i’d made it out of the box!! You didn’t say what your time was at the end, but I’m sure it was a good one and much better that I could do. Maybe if it’s not too early in March, we’ll be there to cheer you two on from the sidelines on the next run. See ya

  2. Dew
    November 9, 2011 at 16:22

    Tracy or Stace (Tracy’s blog, Stace’s post?),

    Hey! Saw your post on Traveler Voice. I’m in Israel for the year too and the Nike 10K run was my first race! It was definitely an experience worth writing about (I wrote a little about it on my blog, MentalManna, if you want to check it out).

    You’re in Israel just for a year?

  3. November 10, 2011 at 12:12

    Hi Dew! Yeah, we’re only here for work-related relocation until next spring. Congratulations on finishing your first 10k! It was quite an experience, wasn’t it?

    • Dew
      November 22, 2011 at 16:57

      I just saw your response–I thought WordPress tells you about these things! The race was quite an experience :).

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