Two days ago I wrote about two events being scrabbled together to compensate the runners left disappointed and hurt by the municipality’s ignorant and short-sighted decision to cancel this year’s marathon.

Tomorrow’s pirate marathon, with no official timing or logistical support, has gotten a fair share of media attention (and not only in this blog) but remained under the radar as far as the bureaucrats are concerned.

Saturday’s event, which was originally capped at 500 participants and then re-opened after registration filled up almost immediately, is now under fire.

Shvoong, the organization behind the Israman Marathon to be held Saturday in Yarkon Park, received an e-mail today from the Israel Athletic Association stating that since all athletic events in Israel must receive IAA approval, the Israman event was illegal. The IAA “requested” (in a tone of veiled threat) that the organizers cancel it and announce that it was off.

Shvoong told the IAA to cite legal chapter and verse.

It is worth noting that the Health Ministry, which advised the city to first delay the marathon and then cancel it, is not copied on the e-mail. It should also be noted that the forecast for Saturday calls for ideal marathon weather, overcast with highs of 19 degrees (65F) – conditions that could in no way pose any health risk to anyone. Therefore the Health Ministry has no vested interest in the event one way or the other.

Whose does have an interest in calling off the event? With the utmost caution and while stating explicitly that none of these entities were either mentioned in or copied on the IAA’s e-mail: the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality and the sponsors.

The Israman Marathon is a slap in the face to the city, which spent months organizing the race only to flush it down the toilet. The mere fact that a dedicated group of athletes, in less than a week and at considerably less cost to the runners (registration for the Israman Marathon cost NIS 150, compared to ~NIS 200 or more for the original event), throw together an alternate event hurts the municipality’s image. It serves as a loud smack in the gob and proof that we really don’t need them. That’s not what City Hall wants to hear.

And what about the sponsors? Not only did “their” race get called off, but now many of the same people are going to run anyway without free advertising, without official t-shirts, without product placement. Big business can’t have that. It has long been accepted that large-scale sports events can’t be organized without corporate sponsorship. Are Israeli marathoners about to prove that this isn’t so?