Kenyan long-distance runner Robert Kipkemboi and Ethiopian athlete Sechale Dalasa rode to victory on Sunday in the 44th edition of the Istanbul Marathon.
Kipkemboi took first place in the men’s race, completing the 42.2-kilometer (26.2-mile) intercontinental run in 2 hours, 10 minutes and 18 seconds.
Kenyan-born Bahraini Marius Kimutai was just 9 seconds behind in second place, while Sila Kiptoo of Ethiopia was third with a time of 2:11.42.
In the women’s category, Dalasa led an Ethiopian podium with a run of 2:25.54.
Melesech Tsegaye secured second place with a time of 2:29.01, followed by her compatriot Ethlemahu Sintayehu in 2:31.38.
The top three runners for both men and women bagged prize money of $20,000, $10,000 and $6,000 respectively.
Almost 30,000 athletes, including 56 top runners, took part in the marathon, which started on the Asian side of Istanbul and ended in the European part of the Turkish metropolis.
The only intercontinental race in the world
Participants crossed the two continents via the July 15 Martyrs’ Bridge, which was backed by a spectacular view of the Bosphorus Strait.
The circuit also traversed several of Istanbul’s famous historical sites, including the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.
The idea of running from Asia to Europe, first proposed by the daily newspaper Tercuman in 1973, was realized in 1979 on the initiative of a group of German tourists.
The Istanbul Marathon, which is one of the International Athletics Federation’s (IAAF) Gold Label Road Races, is one of the most popular marathons in the world.
The race started at 9 a.m. local time (6 a.m. GMT) in the Altunizade district of the Üskudar district on the Asian side of the Turkish metropolis and finished at Sultanahmet Square on the European side.
One of the top cities in Europe
Istanbul – home to more than 15.50 million people – was ranked the sixth best European city for marathon runners in a study last year.
The five-factor study by Runners Need, a London-based running equipment retailer, considered air quality, weather conditions, number of attractions, cost of running supplies and marathon popularity of over 60 European cities to determine the marathon goals of the to evaluate the continent.
Istanbul scored in the top 10 in two respects. The city offers one of the most beautiful running routes in Europe with 621 sights.
It was also the second cheapest travel destination in the study, offering a running package (water, bananas, and running shoes) that is 36% cheaper than average.
The standings were led by Barcelona, Madrid and Athens respectively.