The Tel Aviv marathon was a sufficiently riveting event that it roused some 10,000 Israelis from their beds before the crack of dawn on Friday.
Runners old and young and flooded the streets of the White City in a sea of orange and white and competitors pounded the pavement in the 42.2, 10, and 5-kilometer tracks.
"The atmosphere in the run-up to the marathon is amazing," Yael Pollak, a participant in the 10-kilometer track, said just minutes before the opening gun. "After a month-and-a-half of very intensive training, the big moment has finally come."
The marathon is the latest extravaganza in a series of the city's celebrations marking its centennial year. It is the first competition to be held in the city in 15 years.
Another participant, Efrat Kliper, sounded confident she would weather the grueling race and cross the finish line. "It's all in your head," she said. "The running is difficult but once we cross the finish line the satisfaction is great."
The 42-kilometer race began at the seaside Charles Clore Park, not far from the former sand dune where the founders of Tel Aviv gathered 100 years ago to hold a lottery over the lands on which the first houses of Tel Aviv were to be built. The route passed through the city's central streets, including Rothschild Boulevard (built in 1909) and Allenby Street, and along the boardwalk.
Daniel Konas, a 27-year-old competitor from Kenya, won the marathon by finishing the 42-kilometer track in 2:38:06