Monday, April 21, 2008

Running On Matza

Most Boston Marathon runners will participate in the tried-and-true practice of loading up on carbohydrates before Monday’s race. But some runners will defer to a much holier practice this year and replace their bread and pasta with matzo and potatoes.

The marathon falls on the second day of the Jewish holiday of Passover, when eating leavened bread is forbidden for eight days because of dietary rules.

For many runners used to filling up with carbohydrates in the days before a race, exactly what to eat, and not eat, to perform optimally and still obey the rules of Passover is somewhat vexing.

“We’re carb loading on matzo,” said Rabbi Jonah Pesner, who is running his first marathon.

Pesner and his wife, who are running the race for an autism-research charity, are having a Seder Sunday night with side dishes like potatoes and matzo ball soup, which has the sodium that runners need.

“This is my first marathon, so this was a total divine connection,” Pesner said. “I decided to run my first marathon, looked at the calendar, and it happened to be Passover.”

...Marc Chalufour, a spokesman for the marathon, said the Boston Athletic Association, which organizes the race, will provide matzo at its traditional Sunday night pasta dinner. There will be salad and other offerings.

The marathon is always run on the third Monday in April, Patriot’s Day in Massachusetts, so conflicts happen.

“With Boston pegged as the third Monday of April every year, this is unfortunately an inevitability for us,” Chalufour said. “It’s certainly not the first time, and it certainly won’t be the last.”


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