World's only intercontinental marathon starts in Istanbul
About 5,000 runners to compete in the 42-km marathon to cross from Istanbul's Asian to European side
A record number of runners are competing in the world's only intercontinental marathon on Sunday.
The Vodafone 40th Istanbul Marathon started on the Asian side of Istanbul’s July 15 Martyrs’ Bridge, formerly known as the Bosphorus Bridge.
The finish line is located in the historic Sultanahmet Square on the city’s European side.
This year’s theme is: "Run Istanbul for a healthy future."
Around 30,000 professional runners, from more than 100 countries, took part in the marathon.
In addition to that, about 100,000 people were expected to run in the 8-kilometer (5-mile) transcontinental Istanbul Marathon Fun Run.
The event featured a 42-kilometer (26-mile) marathon, and three other races on courses of 15 km (9.3 mi.), 10 km (6.2 mi.), and 8 km (4.9 mi.). It also included a race for wheelchair-bound participants.
About 5,000 runners -- more than half of them foreigners -- have competed in the 42-km marathon.
The top five countries sending runners are Russia, Germany, Ukraine, Britain, and France.
Fifty-five elite runners from Turkey, Kenya, Ethiopia, Azerbaijan, France, Bahrain and Morocco participated in the marathon.
Compared to recent years, the number of foreign runners in the marathon has doubled.
The Istanbul Marathon is among 17 marathons in Europe and 38 marathons in the world.
Vodafone is the main sponsor of the race organized by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality’s Spor Istanbul subsidiary.
After the transcontinental marathon started, Turkey's Youth and Sports Minister Mehmet Muharrem Kasapoglu told Anadolu Agency "Istanbul became a brand for a marathon like New York, Boston and Tokyo."
"By connecting the continents, we will prove the unifying power of sports," Kasapoglu said.
Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Mevlut Uysal also said "We can turn this marathon into the best marathon in the world by making this organization better. Now, it is among the top 15 marathons in the world."
Noting that about 100,000 people ran in the marathon last year, Uysal said the number of participants increased this year.
Last year, French runner Abraham Kiprotich won the men's category and Kenya's Ruth Chepngetich the women's category.
For more information, visit www.maraton.istanbul and follow the #runistanbul and #run4health hashtags on Twitter.