Men’s elite runners during the race. Photo credit: Spor Istanbul

With fast races and deep elite fields the Türkiye Is Bankasi Istanbul Half Marathon has in recent years established itself among the world’s most prestigious races at the distance.


It looks certain that this pattern will be continued when the 19th edition takes place on 28th April. The current elite start list features 18 runners who have personal bests of sub 61:00 and nine women who have already run faster than 68:00. There are only very few other half marathons in the world who can match such an impressive depth. Ethiopia’s Solomon Berihu is currently the fastest athlete on the list with a PB of 59:17 while Gladys Chepkurui of Kenya heads the women’s field with 65:46.

In total around 16,000 runners are expected to compete in the Türkiye Is Bankasi Istanbul Half Marathon, including a 10k race staged parallel on 28th April. Turkey’s number one road race features a Gold Label of World Athletics, reflecting the high standards of the event. Registration for the Türkiye Is Bankasi Istanbul Half Marathon is still possible at: https://www.istanbulyarimaratonu.com/en/

“The Türkiye İş Bankası İstanbul Half Marathon stands out with its historic route. It is also one of just a smaller number of races in the Gold Label category worldwide“, said Race Director Renay Onur. “Our race is a special event that brings together both internationally renowned athletes and talented newcomers. This year, elite athletes from many different countries will take part. Despite a month remaining until the deadline, the registration record has already been broken and we expect to have 16,000 athletes.“

With his personal best of 59:17 Solomon Berihu is just two seconds slower than Istanbul’s course record, set by Kenya’s Rodgers Kwemoi two years ago in windy conditions. It remains to be seen if the 59:15 record will be challenged next month. While Berihu is the fastest on paper a fellow-Ethiopian has lately shown very good form: Dinkalem Ayele clocked a personal best of 59:30 for fourth place in Barcelona earlier this year. He then went on to take the prestigious Lisbon Half Marathon this month. Running in very warm conditions and without a pacemaker for much of the distance his winning time of 60:36 would most likely have been much faster in different circumstances. 

23 year-old Ayele is the third fastest on the start list behind Berihu and Edmond Kipngetich. The Kenyan clocked 59:25 in Copenhagen two years ago. He has consistently run fine half marathon times, clocking times below 60:00 four times in the past three years. A runner from Kenya with a prominent name could be in for a surprise: Solomon Kipchoge, who is not related to the double Olympic Champion Eliud Kipchoge, must still be regarded as a newcomer despite being already 27. He first raced in Europe in 2022, when he clocked 62:00 in Italy’s Trento Half Marathon. Last year Kipchoge improved significantly when he finished fifth in Lille with 59:37. 

Cameron Levins might well try to challenge the African favorites. A year ago he broke the Canadian half marathon record when he won the race in Vancouver with 60:18. The Türkiye Is Bankasi Istanbul Half Marathon will be his first major race in a year, when Levins will compete in the Olympic marathon in Paris.

In the women’s field the fastest runner on the start list has shown great consistency in the half marathon: Gladys Chepkurui clocked her personal best of 65:46 in Barcelona last year, when she was fourth in a fast race. The 29 year-old has already run the half marathon under 70:00 on eleven occasions. Last year she competed at eight races over her favorite distance, winning three of them and finishing runner-up three times. Gladys Chepkurui already showed fine form this year as well, when she was third in Barcelona and second in New York with 66:34 and 69:27 respectively. 

Ftaw Zeray is another athlete whose focus is very much on the half marathon. 2023 was her best year so far. The Ethiopian took third in the competitive Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon in the United Arab Emirates with 66:04, which remains her personal best. Zeray then was sixth in the World Half Marathon Championships in Riga, Latvia. This performance suggests that the 26 year-old should be able to improve her personal best. 

Sheila Chelangat is an athlete who has just run her half marathon debut. The Kenyan was runner-up in Lille this March with 69:38. She has been a good track runner, featuring a fine PB of 14:40.51 in the 5,000 m. After a solid debut in Lille there is more to come from her.

Italy’s Giovana Epis is an experienced marathon runner, who was 12th at the World Championships in Budapest last year and has fine PB of 2:23:46. In the half marathon she has not yet broken 70:00 which she should be well capable of. Epis’ personal best stands at 70:15 and she is the leading European entrant of the Türkiye Is Bankasi Istanbul Half Marathon.

More information and online entry at: https://www.istanbulyarimaratonu.com/en/