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One more destination in my quest to run the world.
Not only am I happy because it was another destination conquered in my quest to run the world, but because for a brief moment – actually more like 5 long minutes – in an incident eerily similar to one that occurred in relation to the Rotterdam Half Marathon I ran a couple of years ago, I thought I might not be.
The infamous red race bib.
I registered for the race online months ago, as verified by the 957 number on my race bib, in a race with an estimated 10,000 participants. The initial plan was for Istanbul to be my 2nd marathon, exactly 1 year after running my first in Amsterdam. However, in a busy summer full of travel, I did nothing in the way of preparing for a marathon. So a few weeks ago I sent an email to the race organizers requesting my race registration to be changed from the marathon to the 15k, and spent the next few weeks continuing to not train for a marathon.
At the race expo on Saturday, I went to the line for the 15K participants. As the man behind the computer searched in vain for my information, I explained that I’d sent an email requesting to change from a marathon to the 15k. I was directed to the race manager, and I again explained my request to change races, even showing him a copy of the email. The manager informed me that it wasn’t possible to change once I was registered for a particular event, email request or not. He went on to tell that if I ran the 15k, my final race results would show up as DNF (did not finish), as I wouldn’t be finishing the marathon I was registered for, but that my overall time would be recorded.
Lining up at the start, ready to “run Istanbul”.
Fine. A family trip was planned around this race covering TWO CONTINENTS. This race was an absolute must in my quest to run the world, and dammit gosh darnit, I was going to run! And I did. So finally, here’s the recap; the good, the bad and the ugly.
The Good – The location. Or should I say locations. The Eurasia marathon is the only marathon in the world that spans two continents. Starting on the Asian side of the Bosphorus Bridge, I and about 100,000 other people cross the bridge into Europe. The 15k and the marathon both start at this point and we run together until our paths diverge at about kilometer 10. Officials tried to direct me into the marathon line, but as you know, I was having none of it. And you know what? I wasn’t alone.
On the Asian side, waiting to start the race.
I saw plenty of red bibs (marathon participants) going over to the blue (15k participants) side. I also saw a number of green bibs (8k participants) on this route as well. Kudos to them for almost doubling up their distance. Some of the sights we passed along the way were Dolmabahce Palace, Galata Tower, Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque, where the race finished.
The Bad – The spectators. As you may recall, I mentioned that the race I ran in Luxembourg a few months ago had more spectators along the course than probably any other race I’d participated in. This race was the complete opposite in that respect. I’d estimate that there were spectators along about 1/3 of the course.
It was a dreary, rainy, windy day, so I’ll give most people a pass. I also found the race support (i.e. hydration stations) to be less than stellar. No distance markers until 500 meters before the 8k finish. There was another marker at the 10K point, but after that they were randomly placed at 12.5k and 14k. I carried my own water and had my RunKeeper app timed my splits, but for people looking for water or timing their splits, the situation was not ideal.
Running across the Bosphorus Bridge.
And while I’m on the subject of poor spectator participation, I missed seeing my family. Unlike the Luxembourg race, this had nothing to do with not being able to hear them because of my earplugs. While I did have my iPod, I only had one bud in my ear, so that I’d be able to hear what was going on around me and see and hear my family along the way. Mr. Man and I discussed where they would be, but the girls weren’t too interested in being up and out that early in the morning in the rain. So I’ll give them a pass as well.
The Ugly – The weather. If all the drama with my race registration wasn’t enough to make me hang up my running shoes, the weather almost was. I have to say I’m so grateful that it wasn’t raining the 45 minutes or so that we were waiting at the starting point after the buses dropped us off. It would have been miserable to be wet and cold before the race started.
Looks like my red poncho was made on the Asian side.
I’m also grateful that an enterprising young man took advantage of the situation and made his way through the crowd of runners selling plastic rain ponchos. I bought one. It was red.