Monday, June 22, 2009

Runners Guide to Israel #2: The Triple Hill

After missing last weeks beautiful trail run because I was sick (no, not the swine flu), I ran this Fridays trail.

This run was called "The Triple Hill" and is a serious challenge for even the best runners. The triple hill is probably the most challenging trail run our group runs, and is legendary.

There are three opinions among group members as to how to relate to the triple hill:
  1. Those top runners who consider it 3 hills.
  2. Those runners who say it is really deceiving because it is really 4 hills.
  3. Those of us who say 3? 4? This run had 5 hills!
I am in group #3.

We began the run in Bet Shemesh, at the bottom of Aviv, and ran out the back way. We encountered a decently steep, but not long, hill pretty much right away (this is one of the hills the other two dont count!). The trail up took us to the back of the Beit Jimal Monastery. The hill up was what they considered the first of the three and was difficult, but not too bad. Maybe because it was still early in the run.

After a moment at the top, enjoying the beautiful vistas, we continued the run. We ran down past RBS, up towards Tel yarmouth. tel Yarmouth is an ancient Biblical village from the time of King David and has been a rich source of archaeological digs. The hill up to Tel Yarmouth was murder, with steep angles at times probably approaching 70 degrees. It was tough getting up that hill, but I made it!.

The top had even more beautiful views than the first hill, looking over the Elah valley.

From there we ran across to the Elah Junction. As we approached Elah Junction, I looked at my GPS watch and saw we had only run 8km, yet it felt like we had been running 20km already!.

At Elah Junc. We turned around and ran back toward RBS/BS. This included the killer Zechariya hill, though we ran through a peach orchard. I had previously only run the road version of this hill. The trail version is immensely more difficult.

From there we ran back to Bet Shemesh, closing the run at a bit more than 15km. My energy was completely depeleted, but I was not sore.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Runners Guide to Israel series #1

I am only doing low-level running, once or twice a week, as we are not in training for anything specific right now. A bunch of guys from our club just did a 200km relay race that I wish I was in better shape for to have been able to participate in - it sounded really cool. I am too slow for that though.

Anyway, being that marathon training only starts in September (yes, I think I will be training for another one though that is not final), it seems strange that I am suddenly posting here now. Here is what happened - I was out running on Friday morning with the group, and I thought to myself that it was such a beautiful run that I could post where we ran and describe it. It could be something like a runners guide to Israel, or at least to the Bet Shemesh area. That way other runners doing searches can get ideas of trails based on where our club went running.

During the "off-season", our running club does a series of trail runs. Some of them are pretty difficult, and some of them are just pretty. Actually they are all stunning, with amazing views and scenery and the topography can be anything up to extremely challenging.

So this Friday we went on the trail to Hurvat Hanot. The trail was marked at 11.8 km, but on the way back we added about another 1.5km, plus I ran from my home to the meeting point and back again adding another about 2.5km, making my whole run about 15.5km or so.

I had run to Hurvat Hanot previously, but via the highway. This was completely different. We started out running via the road from the Yarkon-Yarden juncture at the edge of RBS to the entrance to the trail off of Road 10. We ran in and joined up on the trail.

The trail went along the mountainside. It was never-ending in its climb to the heavens, as it kept going up, up and further up. It was a difficult run up, but the incline was not too steep most of the time, so it was fairly doable even for someone like me.

The area was beautiful. We were running on a trail on the side of the mountain - the ravine below was full of woods, and the sun was coming up in front of us over the tree lined mountain tops.

When we finally got to the top, or what we thought was the top, we got to Hurvat Hanot. there was a long and large mound there and someone said this is supposedly where Goliath is buried. I have no idea if the is true or not, but that is what he said.

So we kept running, technically back now. The trail still kept going up. we ran right by a flock of goats. Now we had RBS directly across from us in our sights - on the mountain across the way. We ran right by a flock of sheep framed by the RBS view right behind them. It looked so pastoral, the image could have been taken right from a photograph book of the country.

The run down was a bit difficult as the trail was rocky and steep in some parts. We got to the bottom, hooked up with the highway and ran back to RBS via Road 10.

The mapped out trail can be seen here..