No really, according to the in-flight magazine, this is US Airways longest flight, period. So why such a long trek?
Because I’m on an Israel Sport Bloggers Tour, brought to you by Vibe Israel.
Basically, the adventure I’m going to share with you over the next 7 days involves a week-long personalized tour of Israel.
But this isn’t your standard, ho-hum stroll following a tour organizer holding a giant sign. No Mickey Mouse hats here. Instead, I’ll be learning about Israel through an intense immersion in endurance sports and triathlon, along with “Israel Buddies” - Israelis who are particularly involved in sports nutrition, triathlon and endurance events. My Israel Buddies will introduce me to their homes, friends, colleagues, ideas, opinions, dreams and desires - and over the next 7 days, I’ll be sharing with you the creative energy of Israeli life and the warmth and enthusiasm of the Israeli people, all tailored to provide entertaining, interesting and eye-opening content for you to read and watch.
Here at EverymanTri, you can expect videos all week about everything a triathlete would find interesting in Israel, including the cuisine, social life, countryside and of course, the world famous Israman triathlon, widely considered to be one of the most difficult long distance triathlons on the face of the planet.
My tour and content for you will include:
-Competition in the Israman triathlon, taking place at the seashore city of Eilat, along with some serious mountain climbing.
-Dinner with Nir Barak, CEO of Shvoong – Israel’s leading sports competitions organizers.
-A “jogging tour" of the Old City of Jerusalem.
-A firsthand look at Tel Aviv’s running and endurance sports scene
-Mind and body relaxation at the Dead Sea – great for post racing - and something that promises to rival the recovery “float tank” experiences here in the USA, made popular by the Joe Rogan podcast.
-A SUP (Stand Up Paddle) crash course with the Olympic Gold Medalist, Gal Fridman.
-A bke ride along the Tel-Aviv Jaffa seaside promenade.
-A meeting with Israeli Paralympic champions and discover the extent of sports organizations and communities available to disabled athletes in Israel.
-And much, much more.
You’ll get entertaining posts all week here at Everymantri, but for now, here are “Ben Greenfield's Fifteen Fun Facts About Israel”, jam-packed with some tidbits I found quite interesting as I studied up on the country, and a bonus fun fact at the end:
1. Israel has the highest standard of living in the Middle East and the third highest in Asia, and among the highest life expectancies in the world. Gonna have to take a look at what these folks are eating and drinking I suppose - Mediterranean Diet anyone?
2. The sovereign territory of Israel, excluding all territories captured by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War, is approximately 20,770 square kilometers (8,019 square miles) in area, of which two percent is water. Despite its small size, Israel is home to a variety of geographic features, from the Negev desert in the south to the inland fertile Jezreel Valley, mountain ranges of the Galilee, Carmel and toward the Golan in the north. More on that two percent water bit below - since that fact has influenced development of some pretty cool technology.
3. The Israman triathlon - featuring both Half and Full Ironman distances - is one of the most difficult triathlons on the face of the planet, with strong winds, heat in the valley, rain, snow and cold temperatures in the mountain and plenty of very hard and steep climbing, especially on the bike. You can see pictures and get a really good feel for this race in this short article from our friends at Slowtwitch: http://www.slowtwitch.com/Features/2013_Israman_Triathlon_3346.html .
4. Israel is the leading nation in solar energy use per capita, and practically every house uses solar panels for water heating.
5. Israel operates under a parliamentary system as a democratic republic, and is governed by a 120-member parliament, known as the Knesset. Every four years, a member of parliament supported by a parliamentary majority becomes the prime minister and is the head of government and head of the cabinet.
6. In mid-2013, Israel's population was an estimated 8,051,200 people, of whom 6,045,900 are Jews. The country is divided into three metropolitan areas: Tel Aviv metropolitan area (population 3,206,400), Haifa metropolitan area (population 1,021,000), and Beer Sheva metropolitan area (population 559,700). Israel's largest municipality, both in population and area, is Jerusalem with 773,800 residents in an area of 126 square kilometres (49 sq mi) (as of 2009).
7. Under Israeli law, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, and Yemen are enemy countries, and Israeli citizens may not visit them without permission from the Ministry of the Interior.
8. Israel has a rich history of providing emergency aid and humanitarian response teams to disasters across the world. For the past 26 years, Israel has sent out 15 aid missions to countries struck by natural disasters. That’s pretty impressive, considering the country’ss mall size.
9. Israel has the second-largest number of startup companies in the world (after the United States) and the largest number of NASDAQ-listed companies outside North America.
10. Because of it’s high temperature and low water access, Israel is one of the world's technological leaders in water technology. The ongoing shortage of water in the country has spurred innovation in water conservation techniques, and a substantial agricultural modernization, drip irrigation, was invented in Israel. Israel is also at the technological forefront of desalination and water recycling. As a result of innovations in reverse osmosis technology, Israel is set to become a net exporter of water in the coming years.
11. Israel has a modern electric car infrastructure involving a countrywide network of recharging stations to facilitate the charging and exchange of car batteries.
12. Israel has a school life expectancy of 15.5 years and a literacy rate of 97.1% - according to the United Nations. Smart cookies here, apparently.
13. Israel incorporates many foods traditionally eaten in the Arab, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines, such as falafel, hummus, shakshouka, couscous, and za'atar, which have become common ingredients in Israeli cuisine. Schnitzel, pizza, hamburgers, French fries, rice and salad are also very common in Israel.
14. The most popular spectator sports in Israel are association football and basketball. Chess is also a leading sport in Israel and there are many Israeli Grandmasters and Israeli chess players who have won a number of chess world championships.
15. Krav Maga, a martial art developed by Jewish ghetto defenders during the struggle against fascism in Europe, is used by the Israeli security forces and police. I’ve always thought it was just dudes beating each other with sticks, but I have a feeling it’s a bit more refined than that, and hope to bring you video of a true Krav Maga experience.
And here’s a final fun bonus fact: my name is Benjamin Greenfield, but despite what that name may imply, I am actually not Jewish. As a matter of fact, according to my 23andme genetic testing results, I’m a mash-up of mostly Northern European (Scandinavia, Norway, France, and England) with a possible hint of North African-ness. So there you have it. I’m a mutt.
Anyways, this should be a fun week jam-packed with videos and content for you. Of course, if you have specific information about Israel that you’d like to see covered, simply leave your questions, comments and feedback below, and I’ll do everything I can to make it happen!
Author Ben Greenfield runs the highly popular fitness website BenGreenfieldFitness.com, and is author of the brand new atlas of human performance and nutrition, “Beyond Training: Mastering Endurance, Health and Life”. He was also recently named as one of the top 100 most influential people worldwide in health and fitness.