By Fatih Erel
A record number of runners will compete in the world's only transcontinental marathon on Sunday.
Vodafon's 40th Istanbul Marathon begins on the Asian side of Istanbul's March 15 Martyrs Bridge, formerly known as the Bosphorus Bridge.
The main line is in the historic Sultanahmet square on the European side of the city.
This year's theme is: "Drive Istanbul for a healthy future."
About 30,000 professional runners, from more than 100 countries, will participate in the marathon.
In addition, about 100,000 people are expected to run in the 8-kilometer transnational Istanbul Marathon Fun Run.
The event has a marathon of 42 kilometers (26 miles) and three other races at courses of 15 km, 10 km and 8 km (4.9 mi). It will also include a contest for wheelchair-bound participants.
About 5,000 runners – more than half of those foreigners – will compete in the 42-km marathon.
The five biggest countries that send runners are Russia, Germany, Ukraine, Great Britain and France.
Fifty-five elite runners from Turkey, Kenya, Ethiopia, Azerbaijan, France, Bahrain and Morocco will participate in the marathon.
Compared with recent years, the number of foreign runners in the marathon has doubled.
Istanbul Marathon is among the 17 marathons in Europe and 38 marathons in the world.
Vodafone is the main sponsor of the competition organized by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality's Track Istanbul company.
Last year, the French runner Abraham Kiprotich won the men's category and Kenya's Ruth Chepngetich women's category.
For more information, visit www.maraton.istanbul and follow #runistanbul and # run4health hashtags on Twitter.