On 13 May 2023, the traditional 2023 SCO International Issyk-Kul Marathon, Run the Silk Road, took place at Cholpon-Ata on the shore of Lake Issyk-Kul.
The event was sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, Information, Sport and Youth Policy of the Kyrgyz Republic, the Track and Field Federation of the Kyrgyz Republic, and the International Marathon Directorate.
The marathon involved nearly 3,000 athletes from many countries, which is evidence of its popularity and relevance. The marathon route skirts the fairy-tale Lake Issyk-Kul at a height of 1,600 metres above sea level.
The guests of honour at the race were Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic Edil Baisalov and SCO Secretary-General Zhang Ming, as well as representatives of SCO diplomatic missions accredited in the Kyrgyz Republic.
In his remarks at the opening ceremony, Zhang Ming said that the Issyk-Kul Marathon, along with the SCO’s Kunming Marathon, Dushanbe Semi-Marathon, and Tashkent Semi-Marathon, served to assert healthy lifestyles and made a palpable contribution to strengthening friendship and cooperation between the peoples of the SCO states. It is not accidental that the latest SCO Summit in Samarkand noted the importance of the marathons and the need to hold such events on the regular basis.
The Issyk-Kul Marathon is held under the SCO aegis and is a magnet for numerous race aficionados from different parts of the world. The marathon has been certified by the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races and has the World Athletics label enabling the participants to win a ticket to the Asian Games, the World Cup, or the Olympic Games.
A distinctive feature of the Issyk-Kul Marathon is that it invites both professional athletes and sports fans from different age groups, as well as people with disabilities.