Istanbul Marathon 2011

I am almost at the point of signing up for the Istanbul Marathon in October. It would be my first marathon and I wondered if anyone had done it and got feedback for me before I commit (I have read it is not the most well organised but I wouldn't expect it to be!).

Also is anyone else going to be doing it? If I go I'll be on my own so would appreciate the possibility of some friendly facesimage



  • I did the 15K in October 2010.  I'm pretty inexperienced but I thought it was a great event.  The marathon and the 15K started together on the Bosphorus Bridge with great views of Istanbul.  Worse thing for me was the crowds - really unsupportive.  I live in Turkey, speak a bit of Turkish and my Turkish husband accompanied me so everything was relatively easy.  Don't know how it would be for a 'foreigner' on their own.  I'll probably do the 15K again this year so I can be a friendly faceimage.
  • Thanks Jude, I'm about 95% certain I'm going to do it. I lived and worked in Istanbul for a short while and completely fell in love with the city. I'll let you know when I've decided and may well take up the 'friendly face' offer.

    I didn't expect support levels likes London but most of the events I've run since starting running have been small with no supporters on route so I'm probably used to it. I just need to come to terms with the leap in my training it will involve image

  • I'll encourage you to do it also, Liz.  I'm living in Istanbul also (my wife is Turkish) and it was the second marathon I ran (my first was the Vienna City Marathon).  I'll be doing it again this year, so I'll be happy to be a local friendly face, along with Jude!

  • Thanks Steve, I entered the marathon on Saturday, hotel is now booked and so are the flights!

    It feels quite daunting to be attempting my first marathon abroad so I have no doubt that I will be asking you a lot of questions about your experience last year.

    I'm incredibly envious of you living in Istanbul as I fell completely in love with the city when I was there which is why I want to do my first marathon thereimage

  • Steve, Jude or anyone else who knows,

    What are the water stations like on the route? reviewing the course they don't look that frequent especially at the end of the marathon.

  • Well done for entering Liz! 

    I think for the 15K there were a couple of extra water stations that hadn't been shown on the web site map and there were certainly enough, but of course I don't know about the marathon.  The weather at that time of year can be quite unpredictable too!

    How's your training going? 

  • Hi Jude

    Training is going well, I did my first half marathon in at the end of March and have another couple scheduled in May and June (Frinton & Southend). I then have a couple of weeks holiday in June (Turkey of course image), I plan to treat the holiday as a bit of a rest and maybe do some light running if the mood takes me then the serious miles start when I get home.

    At the moment I probably run around 28-35 miles per week. I'm hoping that running in the UK summer will prepare me for Istanbul being warm for October, cold I can cope with the only thing I wouldn't want is to have to run in an Istanbul downpourimage

  • Liz, 

    Sounds like everything is going well then.  Good luck for your coming half marathons.

    I don't often come over to the events section of the forum.  I write in a thread called 'Just a little bit further' in the beginners section (I've been running for nearly 2 years but still feel like a novice).  It's very friendly and supportive.  Anyway, if I miss one of your posts you can find me there - or if you want to check us out!

    Enjoy the sun!  I presume it's still sunny there?

  • Liz

    I have just entered the Istanbul Marathon and any advice on Hotels wouldnt go a miss this will be my second marathon after the Gold Coast in Australia last year after losing seven stones. I want to run marathons in every contient in the world and this kills two birds with one stone image

    This year I have done the Blackpool and Liverpool Half and have frecklton and great North coming up


  • Hello

    I'll be doing the marathon and my partner is doing the 15km. 

     I have the entry but flights have suddenly gone quite expensive from the UK. 

    Phil do you want cheap hotels or atmospheric? Near finish or near sights? It's pretty hard to find one near the start and I know some lovely hotels in Sultanahmet but only if you aren't on a budget (needless to say, still deciding what we will do!)

    Good luck all.


  • A group is running from Haverhill running club, 3women and 5 men. If you fancy swopping telephone numbers or chatting before the day I can let you know contact numbers?
    We are travelling from stanstead on Friday, returning Monday
  • Hello, 

    We are running from Hungary. 3 men and 4 women. We are traveling already tomorow and so we are having time to visit the city. We have never been in Istanbul. Does somebody know how many participant will be on the marathon? I didn't find it on the website.


  • How many here in Istanbul then? My second attempt - failed to start 2 years ago due to food poisoning the night before....... Just arrived and staying at Taksim Square
  • How did it go Andy?  I was there but I just did the 15K.  I'm thinking of doing the marathon next year.   
  • Liz - hope it went well. I just completed the marathon on Oct 16th and my comments would be:

    General: Ignore comments about humidity etc - it was the coldest marathon I've ever done.

    Plusses: cheap to enter (to be fair), interesting city to visit (although it had mushroomed in size since i was last there only 10 years ago), exhibition was good (if not easy to get to if you were based in the old city), great start location on the bridge (although if it been a nicer day...), good and frequent watering stops with some energy drinks on a few stands at the end and some fruit and excellent little sponges to cool off, nice goodie bag both at the exhibition and at the end, nice little certificate printed out at the end, good on-line data access, quite pretty first 10km and last 5km, rest of the time you could have been anywhere, very good tarmac thoughout with no cobblestones, atmospheric finish but why they ask you to climb a steep hill for the last 2km...., long boring (16k) section up and down the coast, and the bridge is a nice place to start (the raison d'etre of the race I guess) but the downer is that it is steep and then uphill after that and slows people down just when you want to speed up....etc,

    Minuses: no place for a fast run - the uphill start, mid section and finish will stop that, very few km posts so hard to pace yourself and I am sure one or 2 were not in the right place, congestion at the start - after 33 attempts you'd have thought they could have ranked the start with anticipated finish times or maybe got some pace makers - but no - I spent the first 5km sidestepping slow runners and even walkers in the marathon race who had gone to the front, and  then the slow 15k runners who were merged in - I had pretty much given up on a good time early on. Poor and inadequate toilet facilties (most portakaloos were closed bizarrely) at the start and non existent throughout the race, the bus pick ups were far too early for the start time so you hung about cold and wishing you had eaten more for breakfast, the buses were jammed and the 20 min ride not great if you were standing up, no atmosphere even at the end - partially due to the weather but apart from the last 100m at the square there were few spectators throughout - it was a quiet Sunday morning and you could have been out on a training run by yourself - especially as there were so relatively few runners... 2500?

     Overall it was an experience - I would go back to Istanbul - and the organisers deserve a lot of praise but if you want a really well organised, fast, motivating and pretty marathon I don't think this is quite it.  

  • Hi Mark

    Think you're spot on with everything you said, I was under no illusions about what it would be like, I'm familiar with Turkish organisation and knew there would be no support.The crowds at the end were a pleasant suprise to me!

    Would I do it again? Yes, but then I am completely in love with Istanbul so quite biasedimage  I'd also quite like to do the Antalya marathon as well at some point in the future.

    I've just signed up for Edinburgh next May so it will be interesting to compare a 'big ticket' event. Knowing that I can be a grumpy and contrary cow I'll probably hate having the crowds distracting meimage

  • Liz, I'm glad you survived so well and more importantly want to do another. Crowds distracting? Hmmm... Based on the 3 I have done in the last year my best scenario is lots of spectators, a flat track, marker posts, no cobblestones, interesting course, cool but dry weather (i've now had cold/rain all 3 times) and most importantly lots of room for runners and proper start zones ideally even with pace makers. Worse thing for me is being consistently distracted by other runners - talking loudly, shouting, swerving around and running inconsistently, even bumping into you, dropping their water bottles around your feet,........spectators help you get into the zone....some other runners can spoil it. I think if you are going to put so much training in by yourself  the day itself can be shock and also disappointing when things don't go right and Istanbul for me was the worst one I have done so far....but still interesting....

    Edinburgh sounds like a great choice.........I think you'll love the crowds,,,,,,,Anatalya too..... I'm now thinking about having a go at Berlin next year.............

  • Hmmm... despite the above, I'm expecting to try this in 2012. I assume no one is going back ? Also, the Suffolk and Essex mentions above suggest some of you are local, so love to hear in person at a local race one day - my better half is Turkish, so I have to do this, and we will eventually do Antalya too. Maybe also the Iznik Ultra next year.

  • Kevin

    I would love to do Istanbul again this year but I'm doing a few other running events and my other half rolls his eyes a lot when I mention Istanbul - I may just be able to get away with Antalya next year. Could also be up for the Iznik Ultra but maybe not next year (also like the look of Run Fire Cappadocia and the Lycian Way Ultra).

    I am Essex based - near to Colchester and do  quite  a few local races (Southend half next Sunday and Mersea round the island on the 24th)

  • Kevin - despite my comments overall I was very glad I did Istanbul - maybe we get spoiled doing big city marathons and need something more downscale or different to benchmark and there was still a charm about the event, and I will never say anything other than positive about Istanbul and its people. You will enjoy the experience and the city for absolute sure so I am very glad you are giving it a go. No I won't be doing it this year - injury has spoiled my plans for 2012 but I am on the mend, have enjoyed having to cross train a lot more as I couldn't run and look forward to doing my next marathon in Spring 2013....

  • I am running the Istanbul marathon in November.  I'd love experience, advice, thoughts any of you have who have done it.  I'm not fast and not young, so a little concerned about water stops.  This will be number 18 for me.  Also, do women runners get any hassle?  I'd had that in some cities. 

  • I've run a dozen international city marathons on five continents.  The Istanbul Marathon which I ran last year(2011) was by far the worst one.   Contrary to the web info which said the average temps to be  around 17~18 C, it was below 12, perhaps due to rain and wind.  I almost froze to death!  So, make sure you take warm shirts/jacket.   My average time is around 5:00 but due to a knee injury during the race I reached the finish line just under 6:00 (I'm guessing as there was no finish line sign by that time!).  To my astonishment, there were nobody there, just some workers dismantling the tents and bleachers.  I knew the cut-off was 5:30 but they must have known there were still several struglers on the course as a bus was picking some up after the cut off.  I declined the ride and continued as the info said we could do.    A fellow Canadian I met there said that the people there aren't  interested in marathons and so the organizers had to hire the helpers due to lack of volunteers.   I guess those hired helpers just buggered off right at the cutoff time.   At ll other marathons I've participated, there were always people waiting for the late finishers, no matter how late, to assist you.  I wrote three letters of complaints to the organizers including the mayor of the city which oversees the event, but no response to date.

    It's just a propaganda when they say the run encompasses the two continents because only the starting point is on the Eastern end of Bosphorus Bridge, which technically is in Asia.  However, you don't actually run there as the course is entirely on the eastern (European) side.

    I like the city and would like to return to sight-see, but never to run again there. 


  • Sorry you had a bad experience there Don Kondo. I'm running it this year as it's a great excuse to go and visit a Turkish friend. I think in previous years it took place in October; now they've put it back to November it may be even colder!

    Senor spam,

    If you have a friend there, and as it's a great place to visit, you'll have fun regardless of the marathon.  Just be careful.

    Good luck.



  • Any more reviews from last years race? Tempted to look at this or November.
  • I'm now pretty sure I will be doing it this November. Reviews are a bit patchy, but it fits with my schedule and I'll try anything once....

  • Very belated report, but I did indeed do it.  The bus system to the start works well and I found the course reasonably straightforward. There are a few stupid issues - if you are doing the 10k and you are fast you will catch up everyone running slower than about 4 hr pace, meaning some very fast guys need to thread their way through hundreds of marathon plodders - not really a problem for the marathon runners but probably very annoying if you are an elite 10k runner.

    Minimal support except for the last half mile, which is quite a tough uphill finish which I really enjoyed - nice finish to a generally fairly flat race.  Same medal given to half marathoners which seemed a bit odd.

    Next race in Turkey will be the Cappadoccia 110k in October.

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