Full Tel Aviv Marathon canceled due to heat forecast

The full Tel Aviv Marathon, which was postponed a week due to oppressive heat, was canceled.

The Tel Aviv municipality nixed the marathon on Monday, four days before the 26-mile race, after Israel's Health Ministry said the forecast for hot and drier than normal weather would endanger the runners. The race had been rescheduled for Yarkon Park.

On March 15, one man died and some 80 people were hospitalized with heat stroke after running the half-marathon of 13 miles. The start time of the race had been pushed forward in order to avoid the day's heat.

Tel Aviv residents and political opponents have called for the resignation of Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai in the wake of the death of Michael Michaelovich, 29, in the half-marathon.

The Health Ministry has set up a committee to set official guidelines for weather conditions and public events.

Oppressive heat postpones Tel Aviv Marathon

The Tel Aviv Marathon was postponed for one week because of expected oppressive heat in Israel.

The Tel Aviv municipality announced Tuesday that the full 26-mile marathon scheduled for Friday would be postponed because of the expected extreme high heat and in accordance with the instructions of the Ministry of Health.

Other races, including a half-marathon and a fun run, as well as marathon festivities, will go on as scheduled. The half-marathon start time was moved up to 5:45 a.m. to avoid the heat of the day.

The postponed race will be held at sprawling Yarkon Park instead of throughout the streets of Tel Aviv, as originally planned.

Temperatures in Tel Aviv on Friday are expected to hit 90 degrees. Some 35,000 runners from around the world were expected to participate in marathon activities.

Last year, a 42-year-old marathon runner died after experiencing heat stroke during the run.

Israeli Fest Crowd Feels the Heat

Brutal heat was the dominant feature of the May 2 Israel Independence Day Festival in Van Nuys, as 99-degree temperatures kept thousands indoors and away from the sprawling Woodley Park celebration.

"I think it was the heat," said festival organizer Jerome Goodman, who added that Israel being more secure this spring — compared to last spring’s suicide bombings — also may have kept attendance low. "[Last year], everybody felt we need to do something to identify, to show support."

Goodman estimated the Sunday crowd was at least 22,000, compared to 45,000 Israel supporters at the 2003 festival.

"It didn’t feel as busy as it usually does," said Jewish giftmaker Rama Beerfas, a vendor from San Diego. "I think the heat kept people away. This is my fifth or sixth year. This was OK. The [festival] staffers told me they made the aisles wider this year. It still doesn’t feel as crowded."

In the late afternoon, the festival’s popular Miss L.A. Israel Pageant was slowed down when one of its young contestants fell ill backstage. It quickly became a Fellini-esque mélange of police, gawking kids, Israeli boyfriends, bikini-clad contestants and Orthodox Hatzolah paramedics.

"It was a little heat exhaustion," said Goodman of the woman driven away in a Hatzolah golf cart and given water.

A popular vendor booth was run by Chabad of California, which promoted its Jewish-questions Web site, www.askmoses.com, on thousands of free bottles of cool water.

"We have 30,000 bottles of water," said Chabad’s Rabbi Simcha Beckman, as pair of yeshiva students unloaded more water. "In Torah, water is knowledge. I don’t think people are thinking as much as, ‘I’m very hot.’ So I give them water."

Appearing on the festival’s main stage were Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn, Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and Sheriff Lee Baca, who wore a large cowboy hat. The sheriff’s Golden Stars Skydiving Team entertained the crowd by landing near the stage with American and Israeli flag parachutes.

Radio talk show personality and festival host Larry Elder attracted a continuing line of fans at the KABC-AM booth, where he signed books while sitting next to his mother. Elsewhere, numerous festivalgoers brought their dogs — large and small — and Israeli immigrants danced and sang. The day’s uncompromising heat did not dampen support for the 56-year-old Jewish state.

"As long as you’re Jewish, you have a connection to Israel," said Long Beach resident Hila Yerushalmi, one of the festival’s many Persian celebrants. "Even if you’ve never been there, you know it’s your homeland."