After founding the Run for JNF organization this year, the Buckhead resident will travel to Half Moon Bay, Calif., this weekend to race the Half Moon Bay Marathon.
“The process of the training sort of made me think of how much it overlaps with what JNF is trying to do,” he said.
Leavitt said one of the missions of the Jewish National Fund is to provide baseline infrastructure support for Israel.
“They’re not particularly sexy but they’re very critical … things like clean water, first-responder issues and proper general infrastructure that underlie all the urgent defense issues,” Leavitt said.
Beth Gluck, the fund’s regional director, said he has combined two of his passions to help others: running and supporting Israel through the fund.
Leavitt said he initially expected to raise $3,000 to $4,000 the first year but said he likely will collect $6,000 to $8,000.
“If I get 99 other runners, that’s about $500,000 a year,” Leavitt said.
“It’s really impressive because he is such a busy man,” Gluck said. “He really is not letting time constraints and other pressures keep him from doing what he can to make the world a better place.”
Leavitt has three small children and is a technology attorney at DLA Piper, the world’s largest law firm, at its Atlanta office in Midtown. He said he squeezes in training sessions at night or during lunch breaks.
“Finding the time basically cuts into sleep and physically, it’s hard. I had my left leg X-rayed because of parts of my knee were hurting, then my shin was hurting,” he said. “I wanted to make sure it wasn’t gong to break. If that happened, I’d have to hop to finish. I absolutely have to finish.”
However, he said his last two 20-mile runs were successful, and he stays motivated by his supportive sponsors.
“Every time someone emails me to sign up to be a sponsor, the first thing I do is go out and train more,” Leavitt said. “Some of my friends say they’ll sponsor me at some level but if I beat a certain time, they’ll throw in some extra money, so I’m trying to beat four hours.”
He said marathon training has several “character qualities” that collide with Israel’s history.
“You have to do a lot of training in preparation to just get to the starting line, so when you get there, you can take off,” Leavitt said. “In 1898 in Europe Theodore Hurtzel organized all these training classes throughout Europe on how to start and grow a country in the Middle East. …There were 50 full years of preparation. I really admire the fact that there was so much preparation and forethought in being ready with a slight chance of having an opportunity to have the state of Israel, they’d be ready, and they did. They were ready and the results were amazing.”
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