On Oct. 25, Rabbi Peretz Chein, the rabbi and director of Chabad at Brandeis, ran the Cape Cod Marathon with the Chabad Brandeis Marathon Team.
Five of the team’s members are current Brandeis students: Yoni Cohen ’10, Josh Jick ’12, Meir Krinsky ’11, Dan Litwok ’10 and Justin Meltzer ’11. Two alumni, Michael Kann ’81 and Aaron Voldman ’09, also ran with the team.
Chein, a young rabbi who sports a distinct beard, explained his motivation for running the marathon: “Three years ago, I was taking a walk with my family in New York City, and we bumped into the New York Marathon. And I thought to myself, ‘I think I can do this.'”
Despite his wife’s laughter and his friends’ disbelief, Chein was determined to “undertake something that [he] had never even considered doing.” After months of training-“after a lot, a lot, a lot of hard work”-he completed his first marathon.
Chein was determined to get others involved.
Litwok says, “Peretz sent out a weekly e-mail chain to the Chabad community asking if people were interested in running the marathon.” After a little coaxing, the team soon started up in the spring of 2009, and with it, a unique mentality emerged.
The Hebrew word ufaratzta, or “break out,” became the team motto.
“Peretz explained the concept of ufaratzta as breaking free,” says Cohen. “That is very much how I saw it. Running a marathon was very much out of the ordinary for me. It was so far off my radar-never something that I would have even considered.”
Meltzer viewed ufaratzta in a similar light: “I was motivated to test my limits. I wanted to see just how far I could push myself before I broke.”
The Chabad Brandeis Marathon Team tested its limits long before running the actual marathon. “Training for the marathon felt like a part-time job,” says Jick, who started training in May.
Chein took a different approach, running at least two or three times per week until he couldn’t run any longer.
But the training was more than physical. “You need to train mentally for it; you learn to get into the mindset” says Cohen. The runners became extremely familiar with the concept of ufaratzta, pushing their boundaries farther and farther with each run.
On Oct. 25, months of training boiled down to hours. The strenuousness of the marathon was undeniable. Chein recounts, “The first 19 miles were fun. But it then turned gruesome. At one point I even told myself, ‘I’m never doing [another marathon] again.'”
By the end of the marathon, Kann felt “exhilarated and exhausted simultaneously.”
Litwok says, “I was probably in shock more than anything else. I don’t really remember finishing it.”
Read more about each runner’s unique moments – HERE