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We didn't even think for a moment that the Istanbul Half Marathon, which we have organized for 14 years with pleasure, could be canceled

Turkey's largest city hosted the Vodafone Istanbul Half Marathon on September 20 -- one of the top eight half marathons in the world -- with measures against the novel coronavirus.

Participants this year ran 21 kilometers on the streets of Istanbul's historical peninsula on the European side of the city bifurcated by the Bosphorus Strait across two continents. Professional competitors were limited to only around 2,500 due to the precautions against the virus.

Turkish runners Sezgin Atac (photo) and Fatma Demir clinched the 15th edition of the Istanbul Half Marathon.  Atac finfor new beginners.ished in 1 hour, 3 minutes and 16 seconds in the men's category, while Demir clocked 1 hour, 13 minutes and 17 seconds in the women's race.

Among other athletes on Sunday was Fatih Topcu (third photo), who also competes in triathlons and is a diver and climber, and has over 62,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel Asla Durma (Never Stop) where he explains how to begin running.

For Topcu, 42, the run was easier than he expected: "It was a good race to see how the pandemic affected [me] after running a half marathon in [Turkey's Mediterranean province of] Antalya before coronavirus measures were implemented."

"It didn't affect me much. I enjoyed this race very much as the virus made us miss running a bit," added Topcu, who has run over 50 half marathons and six marathons over his career.

As the course was slightly different this year, according to Topcu, it gave the chance to run Istanbul's historical peninsula completely.

For Topcu, Sunday's run was one of the "best events I've ever run."

"Although there were 2,500 people in the race, the fact that there was no density anywhere shows us the quality of the organization," he added.

"My only sadness was that very few foreigners were able to compete due to the pandemic and they could not see this quality organization," he said.

'I was nervous before the run'

Topcu admitted that he was a bit nervous before the run, the thought of being among 2,500 people in the same environment was "a little scary."

"The organizers found very good solutions," he said. "Before and after the race, I didn't wait in line anywhere. The start was completely in line with the pandemic rules and was very comfortable. Obviously, we can continue with the same rules after the pandemic."

This year also saw the world's first virtual half marathon with runners allowed to go 10 km or 15 km tracks via a mobile application.

On Sunday, just after the half marathon, Renay Onur, the general manager of Spor Istanbul, a subsidiary of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipiality Museum that organizes the long-distance run, said in an email sent to all the participants: "We didn't even think for a moment that the Istanbul Half Marathon, which we have organized for 14 years with pleasure, could be canceled."

The event, originally scheduled for April this year, was delayed due to the coronavirus.

"Sports are the only thing that can gather the whole world around them whatever faith, language, religion, race you are," Onur said.

"To keep these values ​​alive during the pandemic period with you, we chose to say, 'we're all here together, we're healthy, we're taking our precautions and choosing to continue life,' as one of the biggest cities in the world that has experienced the pandemic."

According to Onur, around 50 marathons have been canceled and the same amount of the running events delayed due to the coronavirus.

This year's event involved precautions from the registrations and kit distribution phases and from the start of the race to the finish.

Athletes received their running kits from Istanbul's Ataturk City Forest -- an open area -- to prevent the spread of the virus.

On Sunday, participants were allowed to use public transportation free of charge, showing their bib number.

Every runner had to use face-masks at the beginning of the run and they were allowed to take them off when they began running. At the end of the run, every athlete was given a new mask.

Though spectators were not allowed at the event this year, organizers prepared an area under a bridge for virtual viewing, placing speakers so runners could hear encouragement: "Run! You can do it! Faster!"

On Sunday's event, Turkish runners Sezgin Atac and Fatma Demir clinched the Istanbul Half Marathon, which hosted 47 elite athletes.

Now, Turkey's largest city is getting ready to host its next major event under coronavirus measures, the Istanbul Marathon, on Nov. 8. Topcu says he is also looking forward to running in this long-distance competition, as well as in Ironman Turkey on Nov. 1 in Antalya.

(09/24/2020) Views: 135 ⚡AMP
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Vodafone Istanbul Half Marathon

Vodafone Istanbul Half Marathon

This event has been postponed from April 5 to September 20, 2020. The Organizing Committee decided to officially restrict the Istanbul Half Marathon for foreign participants due to current situation that the World is going through due to the spread of COVID-19, quarantine period and difficulty to travel between countries. The decision to this restriction was based on the health...

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The Vodafone Istanbul Half Marathon is set to be run on September 20

The Vodafone Istanbul Half Marathon will be held on Sept. 20 with a limited number of athletes.

A total of 2,500 athletes will be able to run in the Vodafone Istanbul Half Marathon.

Participants will have two options in the organization. They can either run a distance of 21 kilometers (13 miles) on the streets of Istanbul's historical peninsula or they can run alone on their own track in Turkey's first virtual half marathon.

The virtual half marathon will run on Sept. 19 or 20, aiming to minimize the risk of infection by the novel coronavirus during the event.

Those who want to join in the virtual race will receive a special running code after signing in on their website

They will complete their registration after paying a fee for the category of the race -- either 21 km or 10 km (6 miles).

After the race, participants may send their data to Spor Istanbul on its mobile application.

(09/05/2020) Views: 178 ⚡AMP
by Ercan Dogan
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Vodafone Istanbul Half Marathon

Vodafone Istanbul Half Marathon

This event has been postponed from April 5 to September 20, 2020. The Organizing Committee decided to officially restrict the Istanbul Half Marathon for foreign participants due to current situation that the World is going through due to the spread of COVID-19, quarantine period and difficulty to travel between countries. The decision to this restriction was based on the health...

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The Vodafone Istanbul Half Marathon, with the participation of 2,500 athletes, is set to be held on September 20.

2,500 athletes to run in Istanbul Half Marathon

Annual road running event has IAAF Gold Label status

The Vodafone Istanbul Half Marathon, with the participation of 2,500 athletes, is set to be held on Sept. 20. 

It will take place at the historical peninsula in Istanbul with a limited number of athletes on a single track due to measures amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The athletes will run 21 km (13 miles) distance on the streets of the Turkish metropolitan.

The annual road running event has an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Gold Label status. It was first organized in 1987.

(07/30/2020) Views: 227 ⚡AMP
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Vodafone Istanbul Half Marathon

Vodafone Istanbul Half Marathon

This event has been postponed from April 5 to September 20, 2020. The Organizing Committee decided to officially restrict the Istanbul Half Marathon for foreign participants due to current situation that the World is going through due to the spread of COVID-19, quarantine period and difficulty to travel between countries. The decision to this restriction was based on the health...

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World champion Netsanet Gudeta will be the one to beat at the Vodafone Istanbul Half Marathon

The 28-year-old Ethiopian set the women's-only race world record at the World Half Marathon Championships in Valencia last year, clocking 1:06:11.

But she's run even faster since, clocking 1:05:45 to equal the Ethiopian record at the RAK Half on 8 February, where she finished second. More recently, she ran 1:06:49 at the Bahrain Night Half Marathon on 15 March to finish third.

She'll face Ruth Chepngetich, who set the Istanbul course record of 1:06:19 in 2017. She was second in the Bahrain race last month, clocking 1:06:09 to clip ten seconds from her personal best.

Chepngetich began 2019 with a bang, winning January's Dubai Marathon in 2:17:08 to become the third fastest marathoner in history.

Other standouts include Ethiopians Bekelech Gudeta and Helen Tola, who have 1:07:03 and 1:07:47 lifetime bests to their credit; and Kenyan Delvine Meringor, another sub-1:08 runner.

(04/05/2019) Views: 1,187 ⚡AMP
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Vodafone Istanbul Half Marathon

Vodafone Istanbul Half Marathon

This event has been postponed from April 5 to September 20, 2020. The Organizing Committee decided to officially restrict the Istanbul Half Marathon for foreign participants due to current situation that the World is going through due to the spread of COVID-19, quarantine period and difficulty to travel between countries. The decision to this restriction was based on the health...

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Ethiopian Amdework Walelegn is set to defend his title at Istanbul half marathon

The Vodafone Istanbul Half Marathon, considered one of the best 10 half marathons in the world, will be held for the 14th time on April 7.

More than 10,000 athletes from almost 100 countries are expected to compete in the race, which is organized by the telecoms operator and the Istanbul municipality.

Against the backdrop of the city's landmarks on the historic peninsula, runners will compete in the categories of a 21-kilometer Half Marathon, 10K and Business Marathon.

Kenyan athlete Ruth Chepngetich, who won the title of Turkey's fastest female athlete in last year's Istanbul Marathon, will make a comeback in the half marathon.

In the men's category, Ethiopian athlete Amdework Walelegn, who broke a record with 59.50 minutes in the 2018 half marathon, also returns for the race's new edition.

(04/03/2019) Views: 903 ⚡AMP
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Vodafone Istanbul Half Marathon

Vodafone Istanbul Half Marathon

This event has been postponed from April 5 to September 20, 2020. The Organizing Committee decided to officially restrict the Istanbul Half Marathon for foreign participants due to current situation that the World is going through due to the spread of COVID-19, quarantine period and difficulty to travel between countries. The decision to this restriction was based on the health...

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19-year-old Walelegn sets a Turkish all-comers record at the Vodafone Istanbul Half Marathon

Ethiopian's Amdework Walelegn, clocked a personal best of 59:50 in his second half marathon at the Vodafone Istanbul Half Marathon Sunday. Walelegn, who turned 19 last month, arrived in Istanbul with a modest 1:02:00 lifetime best, a time he ran in his half marathon debut in Riyadh in February. However, he had proved that more was coming when he finished in a world-leading time of 27:36 at the Laredo 10km three weeks ago. The Ethiopian was in the leading pack going hard from the gun. The fast opening 2:43 kilometre led to a 14:10 split at five kilometres with an 11-man pack at the front. Along with Walelegn, Asefa Tefera of Ethiopia, Kenyans Leonard Langat and Evans Cheruiyot, and the Turkish duo Kaan Kigen Özbilen and Polat Kemboi Arıkan were still in contention when the group passed the 10-kilometre mark in 28:09. Arikan was the first to start losing ground after the 12th kilometre, but the rest held together at 15-k, reached in 42:15 and still well in line with the targeted pace of sub-60. (04/09/2018) Views: 1,172 ⚡AMP
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