by LIZ ONUFER | photos by Spark Photography

Always in Motion

athlete_rustemoglu1Deciding where to start a profile on Gulsum Rustemoglu is a difficult task – from her childhood in Istanbul to marathon running to her two master’s degrees and small business. She is the first to admit her workaholic tendencies: “I love working and producing projects and developing new ideas on a constant basis.”

Gulsum arrived in San Diego in 1998 to earn her master’s degree in English and Comparative Language at SDSU. She eventually earned her second degree in City and Urban Planning. At SDSU she met her husband, Ali. Today, they live in 4S Ranch and have two children, Jayda and Derin.

Growing up in Turkey, Gulsum never had the opportunity to pursue running as a sport; it just wasn’t part of the culture. In November 2011, at the age of 38, Gulsum saw a banner in downtown San Diego proclaiming “Run for the Hungry” and was inspired to be part of the solution. She signed up for the 10K race and, without training, finished. “Even though I was not able to walk three days afterwards, a new adventure started for me that day,” she shared.


Name: Gulsum Ozturk Rustemoglu
Profession: Small business owner of an environmental consultant firm, GEPermit
Community: 4S Ranch Amante/Ravenna since 2006
Hobbies: Running, reading, traveling, photography
Favorite Local Spots: Starbucks, Del Norte track


She went on to run several more 10Ks and half marathons but never committed to a training schedule until she finished the San Diego Rock n’ Roll marathon. Her new goal was to finish the New York Marathon in 2015 and then the six World Marathon Majors (New York, Boston, London, Tokyo, Berlin, and Chicago) by 2017. Gulsum is right on schedule, culminating in Chicago this October.

athlete_rustemoglu2Gulsum’s running is inspiring runners half a world away in her native Turkey through a virtual running community. “Our running club grew into over 2,200 active runners,” she shared. “I became a role model for many of my Turkish runner moms and friends who want to start running but not knowing where to start.” This work helped her earn a charity bib number at the Boston Marathon. She is representing the organization Fearless 261, which honors the first woman to run Boston, Katherine Switzer, by empowering women across the world through running and sports.

Gulsum’s ambitions are not slowing down. In fact, she will be speeding up and hopes to run a qualifying time for Boston by age 50. In the meantime, she is ready to start another small business – KD Running, creating running products, offering world running tours, and directing a major race.