Latest News – Tanyel’s Smile also made the news in Turkey.
I arrived to a very special welcome to my home town of Istanbul with TEAM TANYEL my wife Gulay and niece Feride, for the famous marathon.
It’s the only marathon in the world to be run over two continents, starting on the Asian side of the Bosphorus and finishing in Europe. It’s full of history – a race through time. More importantly, it has an unrivalled atmosphere 300 metres from the Bosporus Bridge.
Now in its 41st year, the race attracts 104,000 runners from all over the world, and I warmed up alongside runners from the US, Canada, Italy , Czechia and France, as well as the many local runners. It was a busy start, particularly with an 8, 10 and 15k event running simultaneously, although everything is well organised with bag transportation to the finish and clearly marked out start areas for each distance.
Finally, as the sun began to take the nip from the air, the Mayor of Istanbul fired the starting pistol and we were off, racing across the bridge, the minarets and domes of the city’s ancient mosques etched against the skyline ahead.
With no timed start pens, and the other races joining after 500 metres (aside from the 8k which begins 30 minutes later) , it is chaotic, with runners of different speeds all requiring navigation. And there’s a near 100 metre climb within the first 5k.
I raced my way up alongside a Istanbul local, running beneath the Valens viaduct at the top. Standing since the year 368AD, it provided water to the city in its incarnation as the Eastern Roman capital of Constantinople. In fact, the first 15k of the route provide an inspiring tour of some of the best sights of this ancient city.
Passing Dolmabache Palace, a splendid mix of European and Ottoman style built in 1843, it passes through the old harbour area of Karaköy – now an upcoming trendy neighbourhood – before crossing Galata Bridge. Wow it was absolutely buzzing! Originally serving as a link between the Imperial Palace and the merchant neighbourhood, the bridge is now popular with locals who fish the Golden Horn.
From here, the marathon route heads up along the Golden Horn for an out and back section. Already running hell for leather on the opposite side were the elite runners. As we left the historical area, we followed a dual carriageway, all the way out and back for 20 long, monotonous kilometres. It hugs the the Bosphorus Strait, with its traffic jam of trawlers waiting to be navigated to the Black Sea. By 30k, I too felt like one of those trawlers – stuck and not going anywhere.
Now and again, the call to prayer drifted through the air to remind me I was in Istanbul. That and the refreshment stops, placed every 2.5k, offering water, sponges, energy drinks, sugar cubes, apple and banana chunks were the only things that kept me going.
With little over a mile to go, the route finished with a sting in the tail, uphill, across paving slabs and cobbled stones to finish at the Hippodrome, the beating heart of the former Byzantine and Ottoman empires and once home to fierce chariot rides.
My legs and heart were working hard, but I took inspiration from the fantastic atmosphere, running through Gülhane Park, once the gardens of the Topkapi Palace, autumnal leaves orange against the sky. With crowds of supporters lining the route, I finished with a sprint, calf muscles burning, within a stone’s throw of the Sultan Ahmed, known as the Blue Mosque for its blue tiles.
As I looked around, surrounded by ancient mosques and palaces that have stood for thousands of years, the cheering supporters recalling the shouts of millions through the ages, even the dual carriageway run was forgiven. Not least because I could now boast I’d run from Asia to Europe for Tanyel’s smile, and received a huge welcome from my wife and Niece Feride our family friends cheering at the finish line.
A massive thanks go to all the donations we have received. We’re now at nearly £600 for this race alone. Special thanks to our two sponsors Helvadere and Ayshen Travel.
If you haven’t and wish to make a donation you can follow this link:
Thank you, Cey xx