From Jerusalem to Bethlehem  

Reflections on a West Bank run

Participating in the Palestinian marathon (held Friday 23rd March 2018) was something of a send-off for David Longe and his family. David has been Chaplain to the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, the Most Revd. Suheil Dawani, since 2015. In May the Longe family returns to the UK where David will be serving in the Diocese of Norwich.

We are grateful to David for supplying the following wonderful account and pictures of his walk from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, and for his efforts in the 10k race running alongside the Wall of Separation.

"Stepping out at 4am into the darkness to walk to Bethlehem was a wonderful experience. I decided, as I left St George's behind me, to go via the Holy Sepulchre - all was quiet in the city but singing came out of the church and a Greek Monk was sitting outside quietly praying."
"Walking on, I left Jaffa Gate behind and headed down the old railway line to the zoo.  The sun was up and it was beautiful."
"My phone rang - Sara (my wife) panicking as my brother had woken everyone up an hour early believing they would be late for the marathon - that day the clocks changed in Israel but not in Palestine – so confusion reigned! I slipped through the checkpoint with a quick hello to the Israeli guards, who seemed confused as to why an Anglican priest should be walking to Bethlehem at this hour in the morning trying to raise money for cancer treatment in Gaza."
"The ‘Green Line’ was literally green. I wanted to stop and take it in, but knew I had to make it to Manger Square by 7.30am."
"Now was the hard bit, as the road into Beit Jala from this point on involved climbing a hill. I wondered how the Holy Family felt as they approached Bethlehem on foot and with donkey or what had it been like for Jesus to travel through this beautiful countryside on foot?"

"I entered into Beit Jala, eating a much needed peanut butter sandwich. I realised, as my legs began to cramp a bit after the climb, that the easy part was now over, and the run would be more difficult. 

"The noise in Manger Square was deafening with music blaring and runners everywhere. Luckily Sara, William and the family were easily found, along with fellow runners Katie, Tom, Helena and Keira. At 8am the marathon started. And, after a few false starts - I began the 10km."

"It was extraordinary to run by the wall, seeing the marks of conflict, and running through the Aida refugee camp which is now more like a town. Local schoolchildren sang and danced in the street; everyone was cheering."

"Our cousin Hugh also ran - he did amazingly well in the marathon taking just over 4hrs and coming 13th. The heat was almost unbearable and William, running the marathon, had to stop several times; eventually Rex and I walked out to find him, and ran him in the last 4kms."

"William and I are incredibly grateful for all the support given to us for taking part in the Bethlehem Marathon.  Thank you so very much for helping us raise awareness and much needed funds to improve cancer treatment at Gaza’s Ahli Arab Hospital.”

How you can support David  

To congratulate David and his brother Will, on their amazing efforts in the Marathon please donate by clicking the button below and labelling your donation "Longe Marathon" so we can identify funds raised by this initiative.

Sara Rex Xar and Artie Longe prepare for the family run. 

Xar Longe makes friends - 'the spirit was wonderful in Bethlehem'. 

Runners gather in the early hours in Jerusalem ready to go to Bethlehem.