Tens of thousands to run from Asia to Europe in Istanbul
Tens of thousands of people will meet in Turkey’s biggest city on Nov. 12 to run the Istanbul Marathon, the world’s only road race where people can cross from Asia to Europe.
The 39th Vodafone Istanbul Marathon will host not only elite world athletes but also Istanbul residents who just want to challenge themselves by running in one of the four categories: Marathon, 15K, 10K and the public run.
The marathon also provides the only legal chance for people to cross the iconic bridge on foot.
The July 15 Martyrs Bridge across the Bosphorus, roads connecting to it and several other roads mainly on the European side of the city will be closed to traffic starting from 4 a.m. and they will gradually reopen until 3 p.m. as the route continues to Ataköy, the finish spot in the Bakırköy district of the city, via Eminönü and along the coastal line.
Roads connecting to the ferry terminals in both Sirkeci and Yenikapı will also be closed.
Vodafone became the main sponsor of the event in 2012, and the name of the event was changed to the Istanbul Marathon in 2013.
As part of the marathon, a number of NGOs have accepted donations from individuals or private sector teams willing to both participate in the event and contribute to the works carried out by these organizations.
One of the organizations, Women and Democracy Association (KADEM), has announced that they will be on the track for migrant women and children.
The country hosts around 3.2 million Syrian migrants, in addition to migrants from other Asian and African countries in large numbers, according to official figures.
The official theme of the event this year is “We are running for the future of our children.”
Istanbul Mayor Mevlüt Uysal, who replaced Kadir Topbaş on Sept. 29, expressed confidence in the organization, saying that it will compete with the New York Marathon in the future.
“We are facing the problem that the city life is keeping people away from sports,” he said, adding that such events offered a chance to reintroduce sports to residents.
The marathon, which began with a mere 34 runners in 1978, will see the attendance of more than 100,000, according to the mayor.
Istanbul’s sports director İsmail Özbayraktar said that this year a late registration has also been offered until the last day in exchange for donations of 40 Turkish Liras (roughly $10.5) to any non-governmental organization that participates in the event.
The idea of the Istanbul Marathon started in 1978 when Turkish officials were informed that a group of German tourists who run marathons in the countries they visited would visit Istanbul the following year. It was then decided to realize the Eurasia Marathon project by its name at the time.
A total of 86 elite athletes will compete in the race.
It was the third time lucky for Kenyan-born Azerbaijani runner Evans Kiplagat who finished first in the men’s race last year. Crossing the line with a time of two hours, 13 minutes and 28 seconds, Kiplagat finally took first place after finishing second last year and third in 2012. Ethiopian athlete Shura Kitata Tola finished second and Kenyan runner Peter Kiptoo Kiplagat came third.
Kenyan athlete Agnes Jeruto Barsosio won the women’s marathon in a time of two hours, 28 minutes and 24 seconds. Ethiopian runner Sechale Adugna Dalasa came second and her compatriot Rahma Tusa Chota finished third.