Afikim’s learning center in Lod has been operating an “Afikrutz” running group for boys and girls aged 12-13 for the past three months. This is a long-distance running group and the goal for this year is 2-5 kilometers.

“The idea for setting up this group is much more than just running. Our criteria are not how far and how fast one runs, but how their world changes and takes on a different approach,” states Rachel Reingewirtz, a long-distance trainer, marathon runner and art therapist. “By running, our children learn about themselves and improve their self-awareness and sense of capability. By coping with the difficulties of running, they learn to develop self-discipline, striving for, and meeting, goals through training and perseverance.”

Rachel adds that long-distance running has a positive effect on one’s mood. She claims that many studies have found that running releases neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin that improve concentration and lower stress and anxiety.

Last Friday the group participated in its first marathon, where hundreds of runners completed a 2 km. route in Modiin. Excitement levels were high as the runners set off in the early morning and proudly represented their team and the city of Lod. They all completed the run and received trophies. Veronica Piakov, from Ganei Avivi School, came in third in the 12-14 age group, Oshri Bechar, from Zevulun Hammer School, came in first in the 12-14 age group, Oscar Vasilichin, from Zevulun Hammer School, came in second and Ofek Ragporker, from Ganei Avivi School, came in third.

To be noted is the involvement of council members Arye Levy, holder of the sports portfolio, and Alvira Kolichman, a resident of Ganei Aviv, for their support of the team and of running, in particular.