Run 158 : Turkey – Istanbul

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Date : 20th November, 2018

Time : 1h 07’ 53”

Number of runners (total to date) : 11 (2526)

Total distance run to date : 1580 km

Run map and details :

Do you like big exciting cities? That are set on water? And are full of world class culture and history? And modern nightlife?

If the answer to all of the above is ‘yes’ then Istanbul may very well be for you.

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Even seeing the city as part of a night time 10 km run it was pretty amazing  – as I hope you’ll agree after reading this blog!

Ten of us met at the Sultanahmet tram station. The majority from the Istanbul Hash House Harriers with a sprinkling of other runners.

We went straight from the start point to the famous Blue Mosque – the extraordinary six minareted Ottoman marvel.

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We then crossed the square to the Hagia Sophia. Often referred to as the eighth wonder in the world, it was built during Byzantine times when it was the largest Christian church in the world. Following the capture of Constantinople by the Ottomans it was converted to a mosque and is now a museum.

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From there we ran through the gardens by the Topkapi Palace down to the confluence of the Bosphorus – which runs north-south through Istanbul dividing Europe from Asia – and the Golden Horn which runs east-west through the European side of Istanbul.

West along the Golden Horn, overlooked by various magnificent buildings to the Halic bridge.

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A few of the hashers – motto a drinking club with a running problem – took the escalator.

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The purists amongst us took the stairs and crossed the bridge with views down to the Bosphurus.

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Once over the bridge we headed east where we had the great pleasure of being joined by Deena who last starred in one of these blogs in Ethiopia back in 2016.

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Inland to Macka Parki and then a sharp climb before finishing in Taksim Gezi Parki near Taksim Square.

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Needless to say, this being a hash run, the evening didn’t end there. We walked past numerous bars, clubs and restaurants before reaching the establishment fortunate enough to enjoy the patronage of the Istanbul Hash.

During my various runs with hashers all over the world, I’ve noticed two things. Firstly, there are usually more in the pub than there were at the end of the run. Secondly, they’re great company.

Istanbul was no exception – compare the photo below with the one above from the end of the run.

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Extraordinarily the company that night not only included the aforementioned Deena but also someone I’d run with in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan.

Talking to them all it became clear that most of them had the Istanbul bug. One runner had even taken the decision to move to Istanbul in the taxi queue at the airport – five minutes after landing in Istanbul for the first time.

And who can blame them? From what I saw it’s a fabulous city and I shall definitely be back!

It just remains for me to say a huge thank you to Maria, Tolga, Aleyd, Deena, Beat, Jennifer, and all my fellow runners and hashers for a great evening. If you can make it, I’d love to see you in London on July 4th 2020 for the UK and final leg of Run the World!

Finally, a special thanks to Deniz and Ozgur (who joined the run) from the British Embassy. 20th November 2018 was the fifteenth anniversary of the 2003 Istanbul bomb attack which killed a number of British Embassy/Consulate staff and I’m very grateful that they made the time to support Run the World on the same day as their Memorial Service. (It was one of 4 truck bomb attacks that killed 57 and wounded 700 in November 2003.)

If you’d like to help fight cancer then I and, far more importantly, cancer sufferers around the world, would be immensely grateful for any donations to Cancer Research :

Please like / follow Run the World on Facebook , Instagram and Twitter because it would be great to stay in touch and because, however silly it may sound, it makes all the travel and running that little bit easier if you think people care!

Facts & Stats

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.

Turkey is a transcontinental country located mainly in Western Asia, with a smaller portion on the Balkan peninsula in Southeast EuropeEast Thrace, located in Europe, is separated from Anatolia by the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorous strait and the Dardanelles (collectively called the Turkish Straits). Turkey is bordered by Greece and Bulgaria to its northwest; Georgia to its northeast; Armenia, the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivanand Iran to the east; and Iraq and Syria to the south. Ankara is its capital but Istanbul is the country’s largest city. Approximately 70 to 80 per cent of the country’s citizens identify as Turkish. Kurds are the largest minority; the size of the Kurdish population is a subject of dispute with estimates placing the figure at anywhere from 12 to 25 per cent of the population.

At various points in its history, the region has been inhabited by diverse civilizations including the AssyriansGreeksThraciansPhrygiansUrartians, and Armenians.Hellenization started during the era of Alexander the Great and continued into the Byzantine era. The Seljuk Turks began migrating into the area in the 11th century, and their victory over the Byzantines at the Battle of Manzikert in 1071 symbolizes the start and foundation of Turkey.The Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm ruled Anatolia until the Mongol invasion in 1243, when it disintegrated into small Turkish principalities. Beginning in the late 13th-century, the Ottomans started uniting these Turkish principalities. After Mehmed II conquered Constantinople in 1453, Ottoman expansion continued under Selim I. During the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent the Ottoman Empire encompassed much of Southeast Europe, West Asia and North Africa and became a world power. In the following centuries the state entered a period of decline with a gradual loss of territories and wars. In an effort to consolidate the weakening social and political foundations of the empire, Mahmut II started a period of modernisation in the early 19th century, bringing reforms in all areas of the state including the military and bureaucracy along with the emancipation of all citizens.

In 1913, a coup d’état effectively put the country under the control of the Three Pashas. During World War I, the Ottoman government committed genocides against its ArmenianAssyrian and Pontic Greek subjects. Following the war, the conglomeration of territories and peoples that formerly comprised the Ottoman Empire was partitioned into several new states. The Turkish War of Independence, initiated by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his colleagues against occupying Allied Powers, resulted in the abolition of monarchy in 1922 and the establishment of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, with Atatürk as its first president. Atatürk enacted numerous reforms, many of which incorporated various aspects of Western thought, philosophy, and customs into the new form of Turkish government. The Kurdish–Turkish conflict, an armed conflict between the Republic of Turkey and Kurdish insurgents, has been active since 1984 primarily in the southeast of the country. Various Kurdish groups demand separation from Turkey to create an independent Kurdistan or to have autonomy and greater political and cultural rights for Kurds in Turkey.

Turkey is a charter member of the UN, an early member of NATO, the IMF and the World Bank. After becoming one of the first members of the Council of Europe in 1949, Turkey became an associate member of the EEC in 1963, joined the EU Customs Union in 1995 and started accession negotiations with the European Union in 2005 which have been effectively stopped by the EU in 2017 due to “Turkey’s path toward autocratic rule”.Turkey’s economy and diplomatic initiatives led to its recognition as a regional power while its location has given it geopolitical and strategic importance throughout history. Turkey is a secularunitary, formerly parliamentary republic which adopted a presidential system with a referendum in 2017; the new system came into effect with the presidential election in 2018. Turkey’s current administration headed by president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of the AKP has enacted measures to increase the influence of Islam, reversed and undermined Kemalist policies, and has reversed earlier reforms such as freedom of the press.

World Bank Data

Here’s the latest World Bank data for Turkey – with the year 2000 as a comparison.

GDP $851 bn 2017 $273 bn 2000
Population 80.7 m 2017 63.2 m 2000
Primary school enrolment* 103% 2015 103% 2000
CO2 Emissions** 4.5 2014 3.4 2000
% below poverty line*** 1.6% 2015 30.3% 2002
Life expectancy at birth 75.8 yrs 2016 70.0 yrs 2000
GNI per capita $10930 2017 $4300 2000

*Percentage can exceed 100% due to the inclusion of over and under aged students

** Metric tons per capita

***The World Bank notes that the methodology can vary between countries and over time within a given country. (While much of the World Bank data generally follows understandable trends, this number often oscillates wildly suggesting that different methodologies are frequently used over time within a given country.)

Greatest Sporting Nation Data

Finally, here’s the data from Greatest Sporting Nation on how Turkey performed in the global sporting arena in 2017:

Global Cup – 31st

Per Capita Cup – 52nd

The Global Cup aggregates results from over 1000 events across 80 sports to produce the definitive annual ranking of international sporting success. The Per Capita Cup uses the same data to produce an annual per capita ranking.


About Run the World

I'm running 10 km in every country in the world - a total of 205 countries - by the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. I'm doing the Run the World challenge to promote the benefits of sport and physical activity and to raise money for cancer research following the death of my mother from cancer. If you'd like to donate to Cancer Research - - then I know they'd be very grateful.
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