A rainy Jerusalem Marathon on Emek Refaim Street

I was out doing my Friday morning errands when I ran smack dab into the center of the Jerusalem Marathon. Or should I say, they ran into me.

I had gone down to Emek Refaim Street to buy the newspaper, challah and dessert. The street was blocked off for the marathon. What fun, I thought. I’ll get to see the runners as they huff their way past kilometer 29.

One problem: Marzipan bakery, which makes the best half-cooked chocolate rugelach in the city, was on the other side of road which was being guarded by a full contingent of yellow-jacketed police and hired security personnel.

From inside the Steimatsky’s book store at the cashier, only a few runners passed – the leaders of the pack – thin and tiny. By the time I exited, though, a throng of thousands were pulsing my way.

I had to think fast. Would I be a timid American immigrant and wait for all the runners to pass before crossing at the traffic light? Or would I summon up the chutzpah of a Sabra and sprint perpendicularly through the human traffic?

Fortunately, the decision was made for me from above. No, I didn’t gaze skyward and ask for a sign. Rather the heavens opened up all by themselves, unleashing a torrent of not only rain but hail, effectively driving home the imperative for this chicken to head quickly for the rugelach, rules or not.

Pastries in hand, I relaxed and joined the spectators cheering on the runners, feeling sorry they had to slodge through such weather, even though they evinced no dissatisfaction.

12,000 professional and amateur athletes joined this year’s Jerusalem Marathon – 3,000 more than last year, making it Israel’s largest race and one of the world’s most picturesque. Next year, I’ll head out earlier and maybe stand by the road handing out rugelach to the weary at kilometer 29.