Istanbul is preparing to welcome thousands of athletes on Sunday as the city gears up for the 42nd Istanbul Marathon.
This year’s race will see a dramatic reduction in the number of participants due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with only 4,000 runners set to compete, compared to around 37,000 last year.
The world’s only intercontinental marathon and placed in the Gold category by World Athletics, the event will allow athletes from all around the world to run around the city’s many historic sites, including the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.
Changing this year’s route for the 40K marathon due to the coronavirus, the organizer’s introduced a new route – aptly named “The Pandemic Special Track” – that will see athletes start at the Yenikapı area in the European side, instead of the July 15 Martyr’s Bridge.
The athletes will run to the city’s Altunizade district on the Asian side before sprinting back to the European side to reach Balat and then back to Yenikapı for the finish.
No spectators will be allowed near the marathon track due to coronavirus precautions. The organizers also introduced a participant quota this year to avoid overcrowding to ensure distance between the runners.
Due to the participant limit, the organizers introduced a virtual race in addition to the marathon, which will allow runners the option of completing a 5-kilometer (3.1 mile),10-kilometer and 15-kilometer race anywhere they wish.
A companion smartphone app for the marathon will measure the distance covered and allow the runners to log an official time.