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Sandro Rosell
FC Barcelona President
Monday, September 25, 2017

Twenty-six year old Kenyan Shadrack Kipkogey won the Jerusalem Marathon last Friday, finishing the race in 2:17:36.

More than 30,000 runners, including approximately 3,500 international athletes representing 65 countries, thronged the streets of Jerusalem, clogging traffic but giving the city a festival atmosphere on a cool, overcast morning.

“It’s not just a sporting event, it’s a spiritual event,” Mayor Nir Barkat told reporters ahead of the race Thursday. “We’re in the holy city of Jerusalem, running where kings and prophets walked, where the Bible happened.”

Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) groups had threatened to disrupt the event with mass demonstrations around the country to protest the arrest of a yeshiva student earlier in the week on charges of draft dodging, but police prevented protesters from reaching the site. In Jerusalem, 40 people were detained adjacent to the course of the marathon, while on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway police stopped three buses of ultra-Orthodox Jews on suspicion they were planning to disrupt the marathon.

Running Without Shoes

When the 30,000 runners hit the streets of Jerusalem last Friday for the marathon,  at least one man was running in a dream – and without shoes.

“This is 42.2 kilometers on holy ground. Only makes sense to take my shoes off,” said 61-year-old Rick Roeber of Kansas City, Missouri. “Greater men than I have taken their shoes off in this place and shed blood in and for this city. So if I stub my toe here, I’ll be in good company,” he laughs.

Roeber, now known as Barefoot Rick, discovered running at the age of 37, largely in order to put the demons of his early adulthood to rest. As a young man he was often homeless, addicted to alcohol and deeply troubled. He wandered around the United States, from New York, San Francisco, sleeping in homeless shelters and doing odd jobs. Eventually, he joined Alcoholics Anonymous, enrolled at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and began the arduous process of finding himself. Running became a natural part of the recovery process.

The rest, as they say, is history. Roeber, an assistant pastor from Abundant Life Church, near Kansas City joins 3,500 international runners from more than 60 countries in the Jerusalem Marathon. The race will be his 102nd marathon, and 84th without shoes. He’s run barefoot in virtually all weather conditions after developing sore knees as a result of wearing shoes during his first 18 marathons. A running coach said that Roeber was over-striding, meaning he was hitting each stride with his heel, sending a shock up the leg and it caused trouble for his knees. Running barefoot caused him to use more of the arch of his foot, which displaces the energy better. 

By: Andrew Friedman