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Sunny, successful day for Istanbul marathon

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News | 10/17/2010 12:00:00 AM | JENNIFER HATTAM

Thunderstorms late Saturday cleared by daybreak, to the relief of 200,000 early risers who gathered to participate in the world's only marathon to span two continents.

Thunderstorms late Saturday cleared by daybreak, to the relief of some 200,000 early risers who gathered Sunday morning on Istanbul’s Asian side to participate in the world’s only marathon to span two continents.

Runners in the shortest segment of the race, the eight-kilometer “halk koşusu” (fun run), spent the approach to the Bosphorus Bridge, the official starting line for the 32nd Intercontinental Istanbul Eurasia Marathon, zig-zagging through a carnival-like atmosphere. Walkers taking advantage of the once-yearly opportunity to traverse the span by foot were pushing strollers, hoisting enormous flags and picnicking on the sidelines, while two simit sellers strategically staked out spots in the exact middle of the route.

As the crowds of walkers continued streaming through the end of the eight-kilometer course outside İnönü Stadium, the winner of this year’s marathon was crossing the finish line in Sultanahmet. Kenyan runner Vincent Kiplagat completed the race in 2 hours, 10 minutes and 39 seconds.

“It was a really well-supported, well-organized race; people seemed really excited,” said Tristan Miller, an Australian runner on track to run 52 marathons around the world in 52 weeks. (Istanbul is his 42nd.)

The top Turkish runner in the full marathon, Bekir Karayel, came in fifth with a time of 2 hours, 16 minutes and 40 seconds. Ethiopian runner Ashu Kasim, the winner of the women’s division, completed the course in 2 hours, 27 minutes, and 25 seconds.

Some of the biggest cheers, though, came for the six teams completing the 15-kilometer race in mixed groups of wheelchair racers and foot runners as part of local running group Adım Adım’s partnership with the Turkish Spinal Cord Injury Paralytics Association, or TOFD.

The race was “the biggest charity run ever in Turkey, with 500 of us running for charity,” said Itır Erhart, a founding member of Adım Adım. “[Organizers] Spor A.Ş. really encouraged us and the media has been very interested; that support is really new.”

According to Çagatay Çıtalk, a spokesman for Spor A.Ş., approximately 200,000 people participated in this year’s event, double the amount in last year’s rainier race.

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