“It keeps me fit and it’s a massive challenge,” says Jonny Gould, 42, who has just completed the Hull 20-miler in preparation for the Virgin London Marathon on Sunday 23 April. This year, the Leeds-based boss of Monster Pet Supplies is one of seven people running for British Emunah, with the aim of raising funds for a new dormitory at the Emunah children’s home in Afula, northern Israel.
Mr Gould, who lives in Alwoodley, did the 26.2-mile course in 2015 running for Leeds Welfare Board. “I’m always interested in helping charities and when my friend Claire Gothelf told me there was a place with Emunah I thought yes, it’s an amazing cause… so that’s my motivation as well as personal goals.”
Jonny did last year’s Chicago Marathon, finishing in 3:37 – “I never set out to be a runner but it’s up there with one of the best things I’ve ever done.”
Leeds City Council-worker Claire Gothelf says: “This will be my second London Marathon for Emunah and I’m running in memory of my dad, Harvey Gothelf, who passed away earlier this year. One of the reasons that I started running was when my dad got ill it was good therapy, and when I came back home with the medals, Mum and Dad were proud of me. I am going to run with a picture of my dad on my back, so he can still be with me. I got involved with Emunah as my mum, Margaret Gothelf, has been a supporter for many years.
Talking of her training, Claire adds: “I love the challenge – and I run every day. They all know me around Leeds – the lady with the sun glasses and the pink lipstick. My training is going well – I did 20 miles last week in four hours, which is good for me.”
Prestwich-based solicitor David Bondt, 33, is one of a trio of first-time Manchester runners who are taking on the London Marathon for British Emunah. “I’ve always wanted to run the marathon as a personal challenge and I’m carrying on with my [late] grandparents’ legacy of supporting Emunah. I went with my grandma Irene when they first opened the Beit Bondt building at the Emunah Family Counselling and Day Care Centre in Netivot.
David will be running with my friends, Roey Freilich, who is married his wife’s sister, and Dovid Bitan.
Accountant Roey Freilich, 28, from Broughton Park “has been involved with Emunah for many years. I used to be one of the organisers of Camp Sinai and children from the Emunah home in Netanya used to come and join us. They were happy, friendly and smiling… nothing to suggest the terrible things that had happened to them. When I heard that David was running for Emunah I thought it was a good opportunity.”
Architect Dovid Bitan, 37, from Salford adds: “I’m not really a runner according to the training manuals – I’m keeping my friends company – or just being a bit foolhardy. I’m having a rest as I’ve had a bit of an injury and hopefully it will be fine with physio.”
Accountant Marc Jackson and marathon veteran Flora Frank who are both from Edgware, complete the team. “This will be my second London Marathon for Emunah and I also did the Paris Marathon in 2016. I am very much looking forward to it – it’s an exciting race: being with so many people and having the crowds to support you, and such a worthwhile cause to support.”
Marc is spurred on by his wife, Wendy Jackson, who runs Emunah on eBay – online charity shop. The couple visited the Emunah children’s home in Netanya last Pesach – “this was the first time I have seen Emunah in action,” adds Marc.
Meanwhile the “phenomenal” Flora Frank, a great grandmother and Jewish educator, recently did the Jerusalem Marathon – “I did 42.2km in 6 hours 20 minutes, which is good for the hilly terrain,” said Flora. She’s done an incredible 34 marathons to date – always walking, as she’s too busy to train. Flora competes under the Norwood banner but also donates generously to Emunah.
“Our admiration goes to Flora Frank – she is phenomenal,” comments British Emunah director Deborah Nathan, adding: “all our Team Emunah runners are amazing – and their efforts will be doubly rewarded with the match funding that Emunah in Israel has secured towards the new Afula building. We wish them good luck with their training and on the big day – we’ll be there to cheer them on.”