Written By Julia Levine
At the 2003 Pan American Maccabi Games in Chile, Lisa Levin won gold in the half marathon. Since then, she has become a full-time running coach, a member of the Greater Washington JCC Hall of Fame, and has traveled the world to compete in duathlon and running.
Levin, now 49, started running when she was a 22-year-old student at Duke University School of Law. After three years, she started training longer distances and, in 2000, she qualified for the Boston Marathon on her first attempt. Since 2001, Levin has run Boston 20 times, missing only two years when she had children.
“In 2003, I found out about the [Maccabi] PanAm Games and I decided to do the half marathon,” Levin said. On Day 1 of the Games, Levin won a gold medal and attended the opening ceremony shortly afterwards.
“It was everything I thought and more,” she said, calling the experience one of the defining moments of her life – not only because she won, but because of the connections she made with the other Jewish athletes.
In 2010, Levin met fellow lawyer Julie Sapper through her local running community and together, they founded Run Farther and & Faster, a running coaching service. “Some of the people we coach have never run a step,” she said. Since then, Levin has become a full time coach and mother of three: 17-year-old twins Alex and Ari, and 15-year-old Kira.
This year, Levin is especially looking forward to competing in the Masters half marathon and Masters cycling time trial in Argentina. One of her twins, Alex Reichmann, will be competing in two events as well, as a cyclist in the Open Division individual time trial and road race. “My ultimate goal is to experience this with my son,” Levin said.
“We’re rooting for each other,” said Alex, a senior at Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Maryland. Even though he and his mother will compete in separate divisions in Buenos Aires, “we’re there for the same cause,” he added.
In addition to vying for a medal in the Masters half-marathon and the cycling time trial, Levin also hopes to reignite some of the friendships she made in Chile 20 years ago and meet other USA endurance athletes. She said she especially admires those who have had notable successes and approached their accomplishments “with Jewish values.”
Ultimately, though, Levin feels the significance of these Games will reach far deeper than athletic achievement and friendship.
“This is where I belong,” she said. “This is home.”