11th Marathon – Istanbul

14 & 18 October 2010

My 11th Istanbul (Turkey) Marathon – 14 & 18 October 2010,

Sighs, it’s a month since I ran the Moscow marathon – so now my next Marathon is in Istanbul. My wife Uzma and my Princess daughter Maha have joined me on this trip for the very first time to experience what a Marathon is like.

We hopped on the plane to Istanbul from Stansted airport – it was about a 5 hours flight. It was bit struggle for Maha as she is was unable to stay still and had an uncomfortable seat. She is a very active person! Finally, she went to sleep and had a good long nap to leave us alone and have a peaceful journey.

We landed at Sabina airport, Istanbul, we tried to find transport to the hotel from the airport, and so we went to the information centre. A guy with a ponytail tried to tell us that Sabina airport is out of Istanbul and told its expensive for taxi and it would take approx one hour or cheapest bus would be approx three hours to the centre of Istanbul. He guided us to taxi desk office a made us a special offer- so we paid for special express mini-bus same as other Austria couple. The staff told us to wait about 20 minutes so we went to the café and waiting. Waiting… waiting…. They kept saying to us “soon” which it was annoying! One hour 15 minutes later, finally a guy turned up and took us but we were shocked when we saw his cab, which was a normal taxi car as thought it was mini bus! It was too crowded as there were three of us. A couple of Austrians, plus luggage and a pram in the car – it was a crazy one hour distance. Thankfully we are staying at nice “The City” hotel – the Sultanamet – where the marathon finishes.

Friday, sadly it was so terrible weather – all day – heavily pouring with rain. We went looking for the free shuttle bus from the Sultanamet to Expo the area, but we are unable to find the bus stop. There are no posters or whereabouts info where to pick it up, also we kept asked other people include police and information centre and they were quite unhelpful!


Our clothes were so heavy wet and so we gave up then decided to catch a taxi to Expo by next day. Lucky, we met other three deaf college friendly girls on the tram, they guided us to the big shopping mall, and also we were interested to listen about their life in Istanbul.


Saturday, we took a taxi to the Expo area. There was a big difference!  In comparison to Moscow Expo – that there have about 30 exhibitions include big TV projector for marathon map information and free pasta foods. There are thousands runners, running round to distribute race packages (Chip, t-shirt and bib number). I’m bit disappointed there was no course map provided, but there are fantastic website course map. Unfortunately, I didn’t print it out before I arrived in Istanbul. I met Hong Kong deaf guy name is CHI KIN CHENG (bib no 623) who joined the Istanbul marathon with his hearing Hong Kong running club group also his deaf girl friend came and support him. We had a brief chat that it’s his third marathon, which he did in Hong Kong and China. He’s aimed to finish 3:30.


After Expo area, we catch a free shuttle bus back to Sultanhmet, which it’s only about 10 minutes distance but somehow we were stuck in the heavy traffic for an hour. Lucky Uzma and Maha were heavy sleeping same time I talked other two runner guys that we were (bibs no 1161 and 1493) looking for the marathon route on the map. At last, arrived Sultanhmet so we explored round the mosques and big Grand Bazzaar market. Lots of beautiful sightseeing!


Sunday, marathon time…. I was worrying because I haven’t run training much for a week due had a left toe injury with cut and bruise (I had a accident, I dropped a heavy tile on it.)   I’ve decided to go ahead to run as I can to get my 11th medals also I have already paid for everything and got nothing to lose. The thunderstorms late Saturday night had cleared by daybreak. I hopped on the free shuttle bus 7am at Sultanhmet to the Asian side of Istanbul where I start to cross the long Bosporus Bridge and then the to the Golden Horn. The Bosphorus Bridge is one of the two bridges in Istanbul that connects Asia and Europe. Nevertheless, it is not one of the many bridges in the world that can be either walked across or climbed. It is open for the pedestrians only for a couple of hours every year. This once-a-year opportunity to walk over the Bosphorus Bridge is the Istanbul Marathon, popularly known as the Eurasia Marathon. The occasion comes again when thousands of people will be able to walk from Asia to Europe.

Around 200000 people attended the Intercontinental Eurasia Marathon, 15km and 8km race. Everyone was waiting for an hour before start at 9am. Nothing much we do is waiting and watch the rise sunset behind the Bosphorus Bridge. Few minutes before start, I found and greeted the Hong Kong guy with his runner group. I realised I’m desperate for the toilet – but no time when we all saw the Istanbul Mayor on the top of bus and greeting us same time shouting the time countdown to press a gun shot! Everyone ran, I tired to ignore toilet and carry on to long bridge and lots of run hills. There are two split line of colour red is marathon and blue is 15km race. There are loads of Turkey flags everywhere to show how Turkey is proud of their country also the spectator was good! I was to follow my pace time to aim each 5km of 20 minute each same as previous marathon. At 15km, saw long big up hill to famous landmark of Bozdogan Aqueduct to slow us down pace also temperature was increase up to 21c. There were lots of water and apple stops!

After 20km to 35km, there is wind by the beach on the Marmara Sea and smell of the big fish market! I checked my run watch 2 hours 52 mins when I passed 40km and knew I didn’t make it less than 3 hours. I tired to run harder, until I was struggling with final uphill of 3km to the final line. I finished at 3 hours 2minute. Of course, I’m pleased only one minute up of 3.01 Moscow last month , remembering I had a left toe injury and the course had lots of hills, also the weather was 21c degree compare to Moscow flat of 4 laps. Again, I was overjoyed to receive my eleven capital cities medal and free t-shirt although I surprised I finished 36th male place. I saw loads of massage sheds on the side and no queues so I had a nice good 15 minutes massage. Lucky, Uzma saw me at the finished line greeted me at the massage shed.  Maha was confused to why my body was so wet… Ha.. I found this course was full of red colourful scenes, breathtaking views of the Bosphorus and interesting – it was similar to the New York marathon course.

Others interesting facts, I was told that an Australian runner on track to run 52 marathons around the world in 52 weeks. (Istanbul is his 42nd.). Hong Kong guy finished 3 hours 46mins.

Afterward marathon ended, we enjoyed exploring the Istanbul market and restaurants also of course a special kids park for Maha. We also had a lovely meal; Turkey is famous for its many kebabs and desserts! :-)

We arrived in our sweet home yesterday (Monday) feet up a good rest also no work for two days!

Next marathon – coming soon.

Thank you for reader and greeting messages.