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Runners pass through Zion Gate as they leave the Old City during the first International Jerusalem Marathon

A popular marathon is a sign that a city has come of age. From London to Tokyo, for one day each year, the modern city suspends normal business and is overrun, literally, by the people. In the name of sport, cities rise above their preoccupied selves.

Mayor Nir Barkat launched the International Jerusalem Marathon in 2011, proudly announcing that “Jerusalem joined the list of leading international cities that host a full marathon.” True enough, but Jerusalem is not like any other modern city.…

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