The Istanbul Marathon: Once-a-year Opportunity to Walk Over the Bosphorus Bridge
photo by ~Merve~

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.

The Istanbul Marathon will be run tomorrow between the two continents and about 100,000 people are expected to attend it. If you are looking for something to liven up your Sunday morning and refresh you for the coming week, the Bosphorus Bridge is the place to be tomorrow. The Istanbul Marathon, if not the best, is the only one in the world where you can run or walk from one continent to another. Don’t be intimidated by the word ‘marathon’! There is also an ‘Eight Kilometer Fun Run’ with no timing and no classification and a public walk from Asia to Europe.

The Istanbul Marathon takes place 32nd time tomorrow. The course of the marathon has been changed three times since 1978, therefore winning scores differs. The best score for men was held by Moges Tave of Ethiophia (2:13:37) between 1997 and 2006, until a new record were set by the Lithuanian athlete Mindaugas Pukstas with 2:12:52 in 2006 and the Kenyan athlete David Emmanuel Cheruiyot with 2:10:56 the following year. The best score for women belongs to the Russian athlete Madina Biktagirova, who ran the marathon in 2:28:21 in 2006. Over the course of the years, many prominent athletes have run the marathon, including Ian Thompson, Terry Mitchell, and Mehmet Terzi.

The marathon will start on the Asian side of the city, short before the entrance of the Bosphorus Bridge. The marathoners will cross the bridge, run along the Golden Horn, pass in front of many historical sites such as the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia, and the 3500-year-old Egyptian Obelisk of Theodosius, and finish the race at Sultanahmet. So-called “fun run”, on the other hand, will start at the same place as the marathon but end at the Inönü Stadium in Dolmabahçe. Prizes will be awarded to the top five men and women marathoners. The winners on both categories will get a cash prize of 50,000 $. There is no monetary compensation for thousands of fun runners, but the freedom and enjoyment of walking over from one continent to another, while enjoying the breathtaking view of Bosphorus.

Meet the author


Onur Inal was born in Izmir, Turkey in 1979. He studied Political Science and International Relations at Yeditepe University. Onur has an M.A from Koç University's Anatolian Civilizations and Cultural Heritage Management program. He is currently a Ph.D. student in the History Department of the University of Arizona.

Onur is one of the founders of Sırtçantalılar, a group of budget travelers in Turkey. In addition to his cultural history book about the Beyoğlu district of Istanbul, Pera'dan Beyoğlu'na, he has written articles about travel, history, and culinary culture for various newspapers and magazines in Turkey.