10 reasons to run the Istanbul Marathon

The countdown has finally begun for the Istanbul Marathon, which will be run this year on November 13th. It promises to be a high-energy event with some taking part for fun, some purely for the sport and fitness side, and others, like the TİDER (Basic Needs Association) team, as part of a campaign. But the reasons don’t just stop there. As a regular at this international event, I’m giving you 10 good reasons to run the marathon in my blog this week.


1.To donate to a charity or foundation through the Adım Adım (Step by Step) platform

If you want to do something useful in life, you can help others by engaging with charities, charitable foundations and associations. Adım Adım (Step by Step) is a fantastic social initiative that will guide you to a collection of exemplary NGOs. And by seIecting one of the NGOs listed on https://ipk.adimadim.org/nonprofit/index, you can start a campaign on their behalf and raise funds for a noble cause. And believe me, you’ll feel a whole lot better about yourself when you raise money for an important organization. For further details on how Adım Adım works, check out this address: http://www.adimadim.org/. This year I launched my campaign for TİDER, an organization of which I’m the founding chairman. If you happen to be reading this blog and feel like supporting my campaign, just click on the following link: https://ipk.adimadim.org/kampanya/CC12976. I wrote about the content of the campaign in my piece last week (Hand in Hand Helping Thousands).


2. Doing good is infectious; let the infection spread!

When you find yourself among so many people running for good, whether on an individual or institutional level, you can’t help but be affected. More than that, you become motivated to do something yourself. There’s a famous motto within the NGO community: ‘Doing good is infectious...’ It’s absolutely true. Imagine: you see runners pushing wheelchairs, runners leading Down syndrome sufferers by the hand, runners going out of their way for one worthy cause or another... And it’s impossible not to be moved. Like it or not, you may start to question your approach to human values and feel like doing something yourself. So let’s run together for good!

3. Sport is good for you

With the training you undergo in preparation for the run, the physical exertion involved in the marathon itself and the routine you fall into thereafter, you get to get into great shape without even realizing it. Speaking for myself, I lost six kilos in one month through regular training; and believe me, I didn’t have to change my eating and drinking habits at all to do that. All thanks to this campaign, I feel a lot fitter and am thrilled to be back to the old Serhan of the days when I exercised. I also feel a whole lot better overall. Furthermore, after taking part in events like this, the training you’ve done can become part of your everyday routine, which in turn will help you lead a healthy life.

4. To get the best ever view from the bridge


By running the Istanbul Marathon you get to bask in the view from the Bosphorus bridge, even if you cross it regularly. It’s always possible to see Istanbul’s Asian shore from the European side or vice versa. But when you’re actually up there on the bridge, you get a truly fabulous view of Istanbul from a pretty much unique perspective that allows you to see both the Asian and European shores of the city at once. Okay, some of you might be thinking, “I thought this was a run, not about gazing at views.” Well, that’s up to you. There are plenty of people who stop to take selfies on the bridge, who break into a dance or celebrate in all kinds of ways. It’s a run in name, but basically most people are there to have a good time and let off steam. You can cross the bridge any way you like, be it crawling (just kidding), walking, running or snapping away. It’s entirely up to you. The key thing is to make the most of the moment.


5. A great chance to socialize

6. Fun every step of the way

During my last Istanbul Marathon, for example, there came a point when I was desperate for a pee. We were close to Karaköy and as I searched high and low for relief in some shape or form, I spotted a hotel to my right. I ran in without the slightest hesitation and, bounding across the lobby, asked the guys at reception where the bathrooms were. They pointed towards the back of the lobby, so I coolly ran there, relieved myself and then thanked the hotel staff as I ran out again. I’d just made a small detour into the hotel, but maintained my speed more or less, and witnesses just fell about laughing. I lost maybe one or two minutes, but it was well worth it for the fun of it.

Then there’s the scene at the finish line. When you cross the line, someone hangs a medal around your neck and you’re immediately given water and something to eat. But there’s also plenty of upbeat music to keep you entertained as you wait there for other friends. Plus it’s great talking to friends as they cross the line one by one. So my point is that the race is fun from start to finish.

7. A unique tour of Istanbul

When you run or walk a route that you normally take by car or public transport (maybe even every day), you get far more of a chance to appreciate and do justice to the beautiful things of Istanbul. For that matter, I’ve often caught myself thinking, ‘Really? Is that here, too?’ as I run. Of course, the attractiveness of the route is also a big factor (I say that as someone who does the 15 km run; for anyone running the full marathon, the route will be different). You cross the first Bosphorus bridge, then head down Barbaros Bulvarı to Beşiktaş; from there, you follow the shore south to Dolmabahçe (that’s the 10 km point) and then Karaköy, before crossing the Golden Horn. Continuing under the Unkapanı Bridge, you pass the Greek Patriarchate in Balat and then turn in front of the Yusuf Şücaattin Anbari Mosque, which takes you off the route of the marathon proper.

The race follows the coast and winds up outside Istanbul Commerce University in Eminönü.

8. To experience the world’s only intercontinental running race

One of the big things that gives meaning to life is having different experiences. For residents of Istanbul, it could be considered a routine thing, but for overseas visitors in particular being able to run across continents is an incomparable experience. You run from Asia (as foreigners would say; we’d say Anatolia) to Europe. Even the thought of it gives you a kick. And of course the ever-changing view of the Bosphorus, the tree-lined road along to Dolmabahçe and the peninsula of the Old City combine to deliver an experience in a class of its own.


9. The unbearable lightness of finishing the race

For most people the race is tough. But with major runs like this, even finishing the race is a big-time achievement. That’s why everyone who crosses the finish line gets a medal. Managing to finish the race after all that effort is an incomparable feeling. Needless to say, all big thrills come at a price. So if you didn’t train properly beforehand or have pushed yourself too hard, your legs can really ache for a day or two. But in fact even that should be a source of pride because it serves as a reminder of the challenges you overcame.

10. Appearing in the best ad for Istanbul

Sporting events like this are given massive media coverage particularly at the international level. The thing is, huge numbers of professional and amateur runners come from overseas to take part in the race, as well as residents of Istanbul and elsewhere across Turkey. In covering the event, media organizations naturally show runners in the most picture perfect parts of the city. Wouldn’t you like to appear (even if fleetingly) in a scene like this and show off Turkey at its very best?


Even if you haven't yet registered for the Istanbul Marathon, it's not too late. You can do so 1-2 days before the race wherever race kits are distributed. I've listed 10 reasons for you to participate. Come and find us (Tider supporters) if you can. Let's have fun together.

May you never find yourself short of breath!



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