Istanbul to run historic half marathon on Golden Horn

Following the success of the Istanbul Marathon, which straddles the Bosporus strait each November, the city will be hosting a half marathon along the Golden Horn on sunday.

The Vodafone Istanbul Half Marathon, which is open for participants over the age of 16, takes place across some of Istanbul’s most historic neighborhoods.

A press meeting was arranged to introduce the run through the streets of Istanbul on Tuesday with the attendance of Athletics Federation Chairman Fatih Cintimar, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Deputy Mayor GOksel GumusdaG and CEO GOkhan OGut of its sponsor, Vodafone Turkey.

“The Istanbul Half Marathon will be the representative and preliminary competition to the Istanbul Marathon. It is one of the top events in Turkey. Along with all of the biggest events and brands, it is coming up on the world’s agenda,” Cintimar stated.

“The Istanbul Half Marathon, like Istanbul itself, will be brought to the world’s agenda with the help of sponsorship,” he added, in reference to the main sponsor, Vodafone. Vodafone has been the sponsor of the Istanbul Marathon for the past three years and is sponsoring the half marathon for the first time this year.

“We are proud to divide an event that takes place once per year [the Istanbul Marathon, in November] into two events with the half marathon that will be run on sunday. Our hope is that that the number of people who join the marathon exceeds the number that we can accommodate,” OGut said.

Runners could sign up for either the 10-kilometer or full 21.1-kilometer races until late registration for them closed on April 25 and 26.

“Nearly 4,000 participants signed up for this event. From here on out, I wish the participants of this, the first ever half marathon this year, great success. I invite all the residents of Istanbul to the Golden Horn on sunday,” the Vodafone CEO added.

Organizers expect pro-amateur and world-class runners to participate, in addition to local casual runners.

Half marathon, full participation“since we started running the Istanbul Marathon, we have increased the number of participants from 8,000-10,000 to 20,000. Our aim is to get people involved in sports,” GumusdaG said. “Today we are launching the half marathon, which we are calling the sister event of the Istanbul Marathon,” the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality deputy mayor added.

The Istanbul Marathon, which takes place in November, completed its 35th year in 2013. Internationally, it is famous as the only marathon that traverses two continents. Locally, it is celebrated as the only occasion in which runners or walkers are allowed onto the Bosporus Bridge. The marathon begins on the Asian shore and ends up on the European side of Istanbul, passing by historical sights along the way.

The half marathon is a way to keep up an interest in running for the rest of the year and encourages locals to participate in exercise and outdoor activities, in addition to seeing Istanbul’s historic side.

Both marathons help to boost Istanbul’s image abroad, as they attract participants from around the world. Turkey is an ever-growing destination for sporting events of all kinds, as evidenced by the increasing number of competitions, from top international tournaments, such as the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Championships, to local events that attract international audiences, such as the marathon.

Historic course

The half marathon, also known as the Golden Horn Half Marathon, took place annually from 1987-1993, before beginning again in 2010.

Those participants running the full 21.1-kilometre race will start off in Eyup and run south along the Golden Horn toward the touristic district of EminOnu. Among the historic sites along the way are the Aya Dimitri Church, the old fez factory of Feshane on Ayvansaray street and Kadir Has university. From EminOnu the route follows the sarayburnu peninsula under Topkapi Palace as it turns toward Yenikapi on the Bosporus. From there, the runners will return along the same route to Eyup.

Participants in the 10-kilometre race will turn back at Kadir Has university and follow the same route to end at the Eyup Municipality building.

Assuming a successful marathon with the participation of both locals and big international names on sunday, the organizers expect it to boost Turkey’s image and put the country firmly on the international map as a nation that hosts big sports events successfully.