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The 28th Annual Intercontinental Istanbul Eurasia Marathon

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Yesterday, upon awaking from a fitful slumber, I perceived, outside the window, thick snowflakes descending at a near-horizontal angle. This is the type of weather that I'm told Eskimos (or Inuit, if you prefer) refer to as "bloody shite". I had a decision to make: should I register myself for the 15 km event at the 28th Annual Eurasia Marathon, the only footrace that spans two continents?

I knew that:
  • I was suffering from residual jetlag.
  • The weather, as described, was terrible.
  • For various complicated reasons, over the past month, I had trained as many times as I had smoked a cigar (once each, respectively).
Mulling over these points, I was sorely tempted to throw in the towel. But we Canadians are made of stern stuff, and, besides: 1) it's only a bit more than nine miles, which doesn't exactly require assiduous training and 2) how often does one get to start a footrace in Asia and finish in Europe?

And so, a couple of pasta meals later, I awoke to a clear blue sky (technically, I was up slightly before dawn, but after my shower and morning cup of tea, the sky was scintillating). Perhaps a tad nippy, but all in all, a perfect day for a run. While warming up at the Start, I saw a Kenyan fellow limbering his muscles, and I remembered my mother telling of guys who would run hundreds of miles through the bush in order to make it to qualifying trials for the national team. This gentleman looked like a winner.

We started on the Asian side
of the Bosphorus and the first leg took us across the Bosphorus Bridge back to Europe. The views from this bridge are stunning, however, under the circumstances, it was very difficult to properly appreciate the magnificence. As most of you know, the autumn wind is a pirate; the Bosphorus incarnation chilled my extremities to the point where I just wanted to get off that bridge as soon as I could.

The rest of the race took us through the main boulevards of central Istanbul, causing traffic snafus throughout the day. The organizers didn't provide mile or kilometre markers; we just had to pace ourselves by feel. Wary of my fitness level, I started conservatively, taking it up at the 35 minute mark, then with approximately 3 miles to go, I felt good enough that I opened up the throttle and started to really move. Unofficially, I finished at a 7:15 /mile pace, which wasn't bad considering my lack of training. I know from past results that given proper training I should probably be under the 7:00 mark for such a distance, so there's added incentive for next year.

It was pretty interesting to participate in an athletic event in a city which views such pursuits with a mixture of insouciant disdain and downright hostility. My cabdriver, for example, was aghast that I would actually pay 30 Lira (~$20) to run 15 km. Just another instance of how human beings often look at others' behaviour with ill-disguised astonishment. By the same token, I couldn't for the life of me understand how he, in his chosen profession, could not have known that many of the city's major arteries would be closed for most of the day. I mean, they've been doing this every year for decades. Don't they have newspapers or television in his world?

All in all, a fun day.

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About me

  • I'm Sunset Shazz
  • Living the dream in Istanbul, Turkey
  • I grew up in the hardscrabble streets of suburban Ottawa, Ontario, committing petty crime, insulting the elderly - basically the classic misspent youth. When I was 19, I moved to West Philly, where I put myself through the Wharton School by dealing crack and hustling. After stints in Paris and London, I eventually graduated and moved to San Francisco, where I put in eight years hard labor working for The Man. But now I pop bottles with models, deciding cracked crab or lobster - who says mobsters don't prosper?
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