“I signed up for the run because I love running. After the first few steps on the bridge I was fascinated by the view and forgot about running. I started walking and just enjoyed the great impression of going from Asia to Europe.” These were the first words a German girl said after crossing the finish line at the 32nd Euroasian Marathon in Istanbul.
People still can share impressions as the German contestant. But the pattering of over 100,000 feet created dangerous vibrations that caused the Bosporus Bridge to swing and sway dangerously. Monday’s official statement confirmed that the bridge’s lighting posts that were seen swaying left to right during the marathon was not a sign of danger or any damage to the suspension bridge. Binali Yıldırım, Transportation Minister tried to explain the swinging as a natural behaviour of bridges, “Suspension bridges swing. There was no danger alert from the monitoring devices. Suspension bridges do swing,” he said.
For the 32nd time Istanbul with its well known Bosporus Bridge enabled once again thousands of people from all over the world to run from Asia to Europe. Winner of the marathon was Kenya’s Vincent Kiplagat who broke the record of Istanbul Marathon history with 2 hours 10 minutes and 39 seconds. He was followed up by two Ethiopians. Ashu Kasım (2:27:25) finished as fastest female runner.
Streets closed to motor traffic
On Sunday, 17th of October from 7 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. parts of the main roads through Istanbul had been closed to motor traffic for the 32nd Eurasia Marathon, a 15 km Run for the athletes and Fun Run for the public. Instead of car crowded streets professional athletes and handicapped runners, girls and boys, young and old from Turkey and abroad took over the streets. The main message “Istanbul is running” was not just written down at that time it happened.
While the first few marathon and 15 km runners already crossed the finish line the rest of the official 100.000 registries fun runners lingered on the Bosporus Bridge. “Some had a picnic on the bridge. Others were participating on wheelchairs and I saw some funny dressed up people as well. It almost seemed like whole families were having their Sunday outing at the fun run,” said a cheering but surprised Swedish visitor.
A wide variety of organizations ranging from associations of handicapped people to youth organizations participated at the marathon and used the opportunity to be seen. Adim Adim (Step by Step) one of the Social Responsibility Partner of the Istanbul Marathon participated at the 15 km run with six teams for the first time. The teams were composed of mixed groups with wheelchair racers and foot runners. “Spor A.Ş. did a really good job” said Itır Erhart, a founding member of the Organization. She was running and pushing a wheelchair at the same time. Spor A.Ş. the Organization behind the Eurasia Intercontinental Marathon has been supported by 7000 people and 600 vehicles on the marathon day.
After the relief and unique feeling of finishing the run complaints were also voiced. Starting from “it seemed almost no one knew where their starting area is” to “when I passed the refreshment point no water was prepared”. But the most disappointing fact was that there were no onlookers and cheers as the runners passed through a maze of old streets and beautiful historical buildings. In Itır Erhart’s words “I couldn’t do a marathon without the support of the viewers” but “Turkey has a low running culture but I see it’s growing”. So let’s hope it will grow fast.
The 33rd. Eurasia Intercontinental Marathon will take place on the 16th October 2011. For every foreigner who will be in Istanbul at that time it’s a must to join. “The unforgettable experience at least to walk from Asia to Europe is worth it” said an Austrian who moved to Istanbul three years ago. Signing up for the 8 km Fun Run without a chip is for free. Out of my own experience it was kind of hard to find the places to sign up, even if it was supposed to be at every metro entrance.
25.000 liters of water, 200 kg sugar, 1 ton of apple, 2 tons of banana and 2 tons of chocolate waited for the runners this year. Maybe next year there will be even more.