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Team Incirlik members race through Istanbul
Members of Team Incirlik wait for the departure of a bus to their hotel Oct. 14, 2011, in Istanbul. Approximately 30 people from the base traveled nearly 600 miles to participate in the Intercontinental Istanbul Eurasia Marathon and associated events, which included a marathon, 15K, 8K and fun run. Race participants traversed the Boshporus Bridge, which connects Asia to Europe, making the race a unique experience to run from one continent to another. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar)(Released)
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Team Incirlik members race through Istanbul

Posted 10/19/2011   Updated 10/19/2011 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar
39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

10/19/2011 - INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey  -- What better way to enjoy a new locale than by foot? And what better way to enjoy a race than by running it in a beautifully unique city?

Approximately 30 members of Team Incirlik traveled nearly 600 miles to Istanbul to do exactly that by participating in the Intercontinental Istanbul Eurasia Marathon and associated events held Oct. 16.

Similar to the military adage, "Hurry up and wait," the runners boarded an early bus to the start line only to wait more than an hour in a brisk morning drizzle before start time.

One runner from Incirlik recounted seeing Colin Cardwell from the 39th Maintenance Squadron standing calmly and boldly barefooted waiting to set out on his first marathon.

"It was fine," a modest Cardwell said after the 26.2 miles he ran, also noting the marvel with which people approached him upon seeing him shoeless. Cardwell finished the marathon in 4:13:37.

It may not be the best race, but it is certainly unique, exclaimed the race announcer prior to the 9 a.m. race start. He spouted out welcoming phrases in numerous languages to greet each traveling athlete.

Thousands of runners leaned against one another at the start of the race and burst through inflated start balloons before darting to Europe.

The few who braved the entire 26.2 miles endured hours of shiver-inducing rain, while those who set out for the 15K and 8K races were more quickly offered the opportunity to dry off and warm up. No matter what race was run, all who tolerated the weekend's rainy weather was privy to the beautiful view as they ran from Asia to Europe across Bosphorus Bridge.

Spectators and passersby spouted words of encouragement and clapped hands in support of participants.

The 8K finish line gave the 15K runners the pleasant indication they were more than halfway through. The marathoners split from the 15K runners for a few additional miles before making the first of two U-turns. The 15K and marathon runners eventually joined again at the dual finish line near the famous Blue Mosque where they were met with juice, fruit, a finisher's medal and T-shirt - and a rain poncho!

The dry T-shirts and ponchos were quickly donned by drenched runners, some with an audible sigh of relief. A hectic search for bags with warmer, drier clothes ensued before runners scampered away from the finish area.

More than five hours after the start of the races, the last marathoner pulled through the line.

Incirlik's runners arrived at the hotel, wobbling to take a seat in the cozy lobby. The trip quickly came to a close after warm showers and comfort recovery food, followed by an early morning bus ride to the airport.

Back to their routines went the members of Team Incirlik who faced the early weather to participate in such a distinctive road race from one continent to another.

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