Iznik Ultra 2017 Race Summary and Images

The 2017 edition of the Iznik Ultra in Turkey took place just this last weekend. It was an unusually cold year with a constant chill in the air, especially for those runners starting at midnight undertaking the tough and challenging 140km distance. With five events on offer – 140km, 90km, 50km, 15km and a 5km run designed to engage the local community – Iznik Ultra weekend is very much a family experience.

Surrounded by eight countries, the Republic of Turkey is ideally located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia and this therefore makes it a country of significant geographical importance. On arrival in Istanbul one is immediately aware of the countries Muslim population, literally a mosque is every two to three hundred meters apart. But despite recent news warning of danger on visiting Turkey – I see nothing of the threat. Relaxing in Istanbul, talking with the locals – everything to me appears normal and this is my fifth visit to this beautiful place.

It is what I love about the Iznik race, the ability to stopover in Istanbul and explore. The blue Mosque named because of its blue Ottoman tile interior dates back to 1609, the Fire Tower stands 85m tall on the skyline near the Grand Bazaar and was built in 1828 by Mahmud 11, the Hippodrome known better as Sultanahmet Square was built by the Roman Emperor Septimus Severus in 203AD and served as a meeting place for politicians, for chariot races, wrestling, boxing and other athletic activities and this arena could hold some 100,000 spectators. It’s possible to have a history lesson on foot.

Iznik situated on the Lake Iznik in the province of Bursa is a short ferry boat and 1-hour drive from the bustling noise and colour of Istanbul.

Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman influence has left several monuments for the tourist. The City Walls at 14,520 ft in circumference are used in the 2017 edition as a key feature of the 140km race. Coming after just 700m, under the illumination of artificial light, it provides an impressive spectacle.

An ancient theater, the Yenisehir Gate, St Sophia Cathedral (Orhan Ghazi Mosque) and the Green Mosque (Yesil Camil) named after the green tiles that adorn it.

Using the Lake as a backdrop, the 140km, 90km and 50km Iznik Ultra races basically cover part or the whole of the Lake as the race route weaving in and out of the mountains that surround the lake travelling in an anti-clockwise direction.  It is in the last 60km’s of the 140km and 90km races and all of the 50km that includes tough climbs and quad breaking descents.

Turkey is not known for ultra running. Despite it’s geographical location, it’s history and the multi-cultural influences placed upon it, ultra is a sport for the few. But over the years the Iznik races have grown and that is reflected in the number of races on offer and the increased participation. This is all down to race director Caner Odabasoglu and his MCR Racesetter team.

Accommodating, friendly and warm, the Turkish people embrace a sport that they know little about and welcome the runners with open arms. The locals, who’s priority is working the land, finding food to put on the table in many ways look on, not quite understanding why people would run, for fun!

Predominately trail, less than 20% of the course is road and these sections are purely used as a transition from one section of trail to the next. A course with demanding terrain, stunning views and quiet, small and un-spoilt villages. Terrain underfoot at times is rocky, rutted, muddy and often slippery. The climbs are tough and demand pacing, particularly if running the longer event is a real skill. Especially with some new sections added in 2016 that predicated a lengthy 10km road section.

In the 140km event, Elenena Polyakova, an ever-present in Iznik and racing in Turkey won the ladies race with a strong performance in what turned out to be very tough conditions after 17 hours – her time 20:22. Kemal Kukul dominated the men’s race with a course record 16:08. Full 140km results here.

Hasan Ozturk had a convincing 20+ minute lead in the 90km to take victory in 9:06. Aysen Sola won the ladies race in 10:22 and placed 5th overall. Full 90km results here.

In the 50km, Mehmet Aydingor took top honours in 4:57 with Asli Stercelik winning the ladies race in 6:20. Full 50km results here.

Race Website HERE

Turkey enlightens a natural curiosity in any adventurer with the wonderful Istanbul and Iznik by contrast, relaxes the mind and body with a kicked back and simplistic view on modern day life.

For this looking to combine the two, Turkey and the Iznik Ultra provide a great opportunity.

RESULTS for the 2017 edition of races available HERE


Iznik Ultra 2017 Preview

Using the Iznik Lake as a backdrop, the IZNIK RACES utilise the local terrain to not only provide a beautiful course but also a challenging course. Elevation and more challenging terrain comes in the latter stages of all the races as they circumnavigate the lake in a counter-clockwise direction. The 90 km, 50km and 15km events are very much about going up and down on trails that vary from single-track to wide rutted farm roads. The 140km race has a relatively flat and rolling beginning but with the arrival of dawn (the race starts at midnight) the demands from the terrain increase.

The Iznik series of races in Turkey are assembling a strong contingent of runners to race over many distances, from 15km to 140km. The long race starts on the stroke of midnight on Friday April 21st, the 90km at 0900 and then each race follows at regular gaps – all races finish in the town of Iznik.

Caner Odabasoglu and the MCR Racesetter Team are passionate ultra runners and have devoted an incredible amount of time, energy and money in creating a stunning weekend of racing on the shores of Iznik Lake.

Dedicated to the cause, the 2017 edition looks set to one again showcase Turkey and in particular Iznik, as a great location for a running race. Iznik has a wonderful history. The Aphasia Mosque amongst others for example intrigues everyone and it’s a pleasure to see the architecture of the Hoffman period.

Famous for its ‘Iznik Tiles’ – the race rewards each runner with a very special custom made tile medal. A truly unique reward and fitting for the area whose tile industry is famous throughout the world.

Racing here is so much more than just running – it’s all about combining travel, culture, history and running together in one very neat package. The proximity to Istanbul makes any visit a dual purpose trip. Despite what is portrayed in the world news, I walked around Istanbul as a tourist and witnessed nothing of the friction portrayed via the world media – it’s no different to being in Paris, London or Belgium.

Racing starts Friday 21st at midnight.

Race website: HERE

Image gallery from the 2015 edition.

Zoe Salt – Ladies winner race report Iznik Ultra


Zoe Salt may not be a name that you know… however, a little look back to 2013 and you will see that Zoe placed 3rd (behind Meghan Hicks and Jo Meek) at the Marathon des Sables. It’s a podium place that didn’t get the recognition it deserved. Fast forward to 2015 and Zoe has now won the 130km Iznik Ultra and in the process placed 4th overall. In the coming weeks, Zoe is preparing for Transvulcania La Palma, she knows full well that the racing in La Palma will be very different to the racing in Turkey. Here Zoe writes about her Turkish experience.


I arrived in Istanbul. It’s not quite the West, it’s not quite the East, and it is different, special and unique. Minarets dominate the skyline as the sun begins to set.

I am a kid in a sweet shop – literally! Turkish delight and Baklava abound.

Friday – I awake to the exotic sound of the call to prayer. The sun has come out and it is gorgeous! From the breakfast room at the top of our hotel we realise how enormous Istanbul is (14.4million people). It stretches out in every direction towards and beyond the horizon. From the ferry crossing we can still see its sprawl an hour after leaving the port of Yenikapi. But enough sightseeing – I really should try to sleep!


Arriving in Yalova everything is much calmer. Driving to Iznik reveals some of the terrain we are likely to be encountering in a few hours…. Namely hills. Panic. They look a lot bigger than Muswell Hill… Must try and sleep…

The race village is already buzzing when we arrive. Where is my list?


  1. Register – check!
  2. Kit – check!
  3. Nerves – check!
  4. Food – check!
  5. Water – check!
  6. Pin number to t-shirt – check!
  7. Change t-shirt – check!
  8. Pin number to new t-shirt – check!
  9. Eat – check!
  10. Take photo of incredible sunset over the lake – check!


Then to bed to try and sleep…. count sheep…. count breathing…. so that’ll be no sleeping then….

We leave for the midnight start, which is completely new to me – way past my bedtime. It is cold. I already have on a fleece top, gloves and balaclava … should I put my jacket on? That will require a re-pin of the number. But surely even cold-blooded me will be running in a t-shirt when the sun comes out? No. Leave it alone. Number is on t-shirt. 11:50pm I think I’ll put my number on my fluorescent vest. Re pin!


11:55pm on the start line. Vaguely distracted as a little Labrador puppy comes to see me off! And soon we are on our way into the darkness of Iznik. Within a few metres I am on my own, so I speed up to follow someone as my worst fear is getting lost in the dark. It turns out that this is another of my unnecessary stresses as there are markers every 50’ish’ meters – foolproof even for me! We run through miles and miles of olive groves and trees full of blossom. It is so quiet. Then bam! I am confronted with what in the dark seems to be a near vertical climb. Have I packed climbing shoes or rope? My calves are burning. And this is only a smallish hill, according to the course profile! Just as I’m worrying about the big hills to come, a certain Mr Corless runs past me backwards taking pictures!


Dawn arrives and with it the wonderful call to prayer. As the sun rises over the hills, bathing the landscape in beautiful colours, I reach the halfway point and am told by the race director that the most picturesque part of the race is still to come.


I have caught up with Mariya Niklova and Alper Dalkilic. I like having them in sight, especially as we are hounded by packs of dogs, some baring teeth. I run behind them for miles, them pulling away, me catching up, until eventually, around 72km they slow enough and I pass them. I’m on my own and the uphill begins again. Up, up, up… when do we go down again? I see a runner in front and I am spurred on. Up, up, up – how high is this going? I pass the runner. I have no idea how far it is to the next checkpoint as my watch has died. I’m wondering if this is a metaphor. Finally I start descending. It seems like an eternity to the next aid station. The dirt track gives way to a paved road, a few right turns into a village and there is the checkpoint! I ask a man how many girls are ahead of me and he replies ‘Three.’ My heart drops. ‘Three girls?’ I repeat.


He laughs.

I obviously give him a confused look and he says ‘Three people.’ I’m obviously still giving my best confused face as he repeats in very slow English, as if it is me whose first language is not English, ‘THREE. MEN. IN. FRONT. YOU. ARE. 4th’ Well, this I don’t believe so I laugh along with them, eat a bit of orange while they kindly fill my water bottle and am off again.


Up, up, up again. I see no other runners but the scenery is as promised. The hills offer views of distant snow-capped mountains. In the foreground a lake, its surrounding fields and minarets marking each village and town. How I manage to resist the urge to stop to take pictures I will never know. Wild tortoises, goats and their shepherds, dogs and toads surround me. I feel like David Attenborough!


I keep looking behind me. Where is everyone else? I feel like I’m travelling in reverse. Surely others should be overtaking me? I keep going. Plodding. Finally I reach the last checkpoint. I stick my head under the village fountain because I am so hot! The villagers come out and cheer. It is an incredible atmosphere – I will appreciate it more later!


It’s downhill, at least for a bit then the uphill starts again! Where is Iznik? I could see it before but now I’m back in the trees and the lake has vanished. I come to a puddle I can see no way around. It’s quite big but I know it’s not the lake! I put one foot in and half my leg disappears. At least it’s cold! Back on track and it’s now downhill. Iznik finally comes into sight; I keep looking behind me as I feel like I’m barely moving. Still nobody else in sight! A bicycle that escorts me to the finish meets me. I work out it’s about a mile left to go. I concentrate and dream of my legs carrying me a little more. Eventually I cross the finish line…. 4th overall and the ladies winner.

Presented with a lovely ceramic medal, I try to say, ‘this is nice, I am from the *Potteries’ (the *Potteries – known as Stoke on Trent in the UK) but now it is they who look on, confusingly at me…!

Iznik Ultra – Check!

View the Iznik Ultra race images HERE

Iznik Ultra report on RUNULTRA HERE

Iznik Ultra Race Report on RUN ULTRA

Iznik Ultra 2015


The Iznik Ultra series of races once again took place this last weekend, April 18th and 19th. It’s always an exciting way to combine running and time seeing some of the incredible sights of Istanbul.

Turkey is not known for ultra running. Despite its geographical location, its history and the multi-cultural influences placed upon it. Ultra is a sport for the few. Runners such as Mahmut Yavuz, Elena Polyakova and Aykut Celikbas have pioneered the way and they are loyal to Caner and the Iznik races. Last year I invited Jo Meek, Robbie Britton, Marcus Scotney and Tracy Dean to the races. They dominated the 10k, marathon, 80km and 130km distances. 2015 would prove to be a similar story with Donnie Campbell and Zoe Salt winning the 130km events in style.

Please go to RUN ULTRA HERE and read the full article.

You can view the full image gallery HERE

If you require images for personal or commercial use please go HERE


Iznik Ultra Weekend 2015


The 2015 Iznik Ultramarathon weekend has ended and what a weekend of racing!

The sun gods came out and allowed Iznik and the surrounding area to shine for the 130km, 80km and 46km events.

For the first time, the 2015 events all took place in a counter clockwise direction therefore allowing each event to conclude in the town of Iznik. So, previous course records and times are not comparable to 2015 results. Arguably, with maybe the exception of the 46km event, this made the racing harder.

Scotland’s Donnie Campbell and the UK’s Zoe Salt dominated the 130km event with two stunning performances. Donnie led from the front and extended his lead step-by-step as the race unfolded. Local talent Mahmut Yavuz tried his hardest to close the gap but Donnie was just too strong. Ever present Aykut Celikbas placed third after placing second in the 2014 80km event.

Zoe bided her time in the female event and eventually took the lead around he 65km mark as Mariya Niklova started to grind to a halt. Looking composed and relaxed, Zoe pulled away and not only won the ladies race but also placed fourth overall. Mariya struggled in the latter third of the race and lost huge chunks of time to Zoe, she did however manage to hold on to second place ahead of a closing Ingrid Qualizza.

In the 80km event, Asics runner Emmanuel Gault produce the race we all expected and dominated over the undulating trails and route as he traversed his way back to Iznik. Girondel Benoit placed second and Tanzer Dursan flew the Turkish flag for third place.

Placing 6th overall and first lady, Alessia De Matteis from Italy dominated the ladies race ahead of Elena Polyakova and Coraline Chapatte from Switzerland.

Jose De Pablo (Depa) looked impressive throughout the 46km event and showed his true marathon form and speed to win ahead of Raidlight CEO, Benoit Laval. Duygun Yurteri placed third.

Caterina Scaramelli from Italy ran a close contested race against Filiz Cancilar and Martine Nolan (Ireland) but held on for victory.

RACE IMAGES available to purchase HERE

Full results:



  1. Donnie Campbell 13:23:50
  2. Mahmut Yavuz 14:31:20
  3. Aykut Celikbas 14:48:29
  1. Zoe Salt 15:14:37
  2. Mariyla Niklova 19:29:45
  3. Ingrid Qualizza 19:43:49



  1. Emmanuel Gault 6:45:25
  2. Girondel Benoit 7:26:10
  3. Tanzer Dursun 8:40:36
  1. Alessia De Matteis 9:03:53
  2. ElenaPolyakova 10:48:57
  3. Coraline Chapatte 11:34:37


46km *update to results 21st April – unfortunately Jose De Pablo received a time penalty as he did not carry mandatory kit, new results are in bold.

  1. Jose De Pablo 4:03:29 *Benoit Laval 4:19:03
  2. Benoit Laval 4:19:03 *Duygun Yurteri 4:28:15
  3. Duygun Yurteri 4:28:15 *Jose De Pablo 4:28:29
  1. Catarina Scamelli 5:03:44
  2. Ziliz Cancilar 5:04:55
  3. Martine Nolan 5:09:44

All images are ©iancorless.com – all rights reserved

RACE IMAGES available to purchase HERE