|Gobi March||China||2 Jun 2013|
|RacingThePlanet: Iceland||Iceland||4 Aug 2013|
|Sahara Race||Egypt||16 Feb 2014|
|Gobi March||China||1 June 2014|
|RacingThePlanet: Madagascar||Madagascar||31 Aug 2014|
|Atacama Crossing||Chile||5 Oct 2014|
|The Last Desert||Antarctica||16 Nov 2014|
|Sahara Race||Egypt||15 Feb 2015|
|Gobi March||China||31 May 2015|
|Atacama Crossing||Chile||4 Oct 2015|
A little intense perhaps for a blog but the heroism of the story is too good not to inspire a few words as I count down to the Sahara Race. I visited Masada today and was introduced to a cornerstone of the prideful Jewish history.
When I first saw the Masada TV series 30 years ago, the extraordinary story of bravery and honor, I knew I had to see it one day. It was a perfect emotional tonic for what lays ahead.
Quick background; Masada was built 2000 years ago by King Herod 1300 feet over the Dead Sea on a plateau sitting atop a seemingly impregnable mountain. Fast forward to year 67 where 1000 rebels are perched in the fortress refusing to submit to Roman invaders who by now control Jerusalem and the rest of what is Israel today. Clever Romans built a rampart using Jewish slaves, thus tormenting the zealots about killing the assailants. It allegedly took 3 years of siege (although Arie, our guide, pointed to flaws in that theory: “It may have been 3 months; I wasn’t there but these roman legions, visible from the top, suggest to scholars that the siege was shorter based on their construction).
The slaves end up pushing a tower up the rampart with a battering ram to punch through the wooden gate. After days of fighting, the rebels found themselves defenseless after the main entry was demolished, staring at thousands of legionnaires. The Romans retreated for the night knowing they would conquer it the next day, a long 3 year wait after the start of a siege in the Judean desert, one of the hottest on earth.
Then the famous speech, partly found on 2000 year old scrolls, by Ele-azar, who led the zealots:
"Let our wives die before they are abused, and our children before they have tasted of slavery, and after we have slain them, let us bestow that glorious benefit upon one another mutually." He ordered that all the Jews' possessions except food be destroyed, for "[the food] will be a testimonial when we are dead that we were not subdued for want of necessities; but that, according to our original resolution, we have preferred death over slavery.”
WOW (ok - it beats Quebec's Plains of Abraham story which I ran through with my family this Summer)! You can see why Hollywood hired main actors and built a great series. According to the Jewish historian Josephus, in the end, 10 men used a lottery to see who would kill each other, with the last man falling upon his sword. Prior, each rebel had killed their wives and children; leaving a 1000 dead in the fortress.
Leslie and I intended to see Masada by sunrise, but life got in the way; we ascended as fast as we could, running parts of it up the Snake Path, before the cable car opened but after the sun had risen. We felt quite alive, albeit drenched when we summited. Oddly, since the Dead Sea is the lowest land point on earth, we had merely climbed back to altitude 0 - sea level when we got to the top! “Frequently, the Israeli Air Force will fly below Masada for giggles and therefore fly below sea level” said our guide Arie, himself a tight-lipped 6-day war intelligence veteran. Not so giggly, upon graduation, Israeli Defense Forces ceremonies usually take place at Masada and they chant “Masada shall not fall again!” No doubt they mean it.
The ruins are fantastic, and you can truly see how people lived up there, completely self-reliant for years with complex cisterns and brilliant architecture and still intact frescoes with a view to a kill for.
It was very moving, and for me, fulfilling a 30 year goal. Clock ticking, it was time to squeeze in one more over the top sensory experience out of our 3 days in the Jerusalem area before leaving for the Sahara Race; we ran down the hill, one eye on the rolling rocks, one on the Dead Sea with views of the Jordanian coast. Our final destination was Bethlehem, the second holiest place for Christians (me), which would involve a worrisome border crossing into Palestine, this time without Arie, our Jewish guide who is barred. “You’re on your own; call when you get to the Nativity Church to let me know you are safe” he said.
Sounds a bit like a desert race I thought.
Along with 8 other like-minded executives, I am running and raising $100,000 to help less fortunate families in our community. Please visit www.running4nabs.com for more details. I have published a book called Gobi Runner. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy; visit www.stefandanis.com for details.
CEO of various human capital companies including NEXCareer (Career transition and solutions), wwwork.com! (Staffing & Recruitment), Mandrake (Retained Search), and Danis Perry Partrners (Executive Search, part of IMD Worldwide)
McGill University B.Comm. Brand/Marketing Management at Procter & Gamble. CEO in one of Canada's largest executive search and human capital advisory services company. Board roles: YPO (Young President Org), MHOL (Marketing Hall of Legends), The Power Plant (Contemporary Art Gallery). Co-Founder of Skate for Kids which has raised $750000 for charities.
CEO of various human capital companies including
NEXCareer (Career transition and solutions),
wwwork.com! (Staffing & Recruitment), Mandrake
(Retained Search), and Danis Perry Partrners
(Executive Search, part of IMD Worldwide)
Why are you competing?
This is the 3rd leg of a trilogy. I ran the Gobi
solo (09), the Atacama as a team (10), and now the
Sahara as part of a community of 10 individuals.