Iznik Ultra 2014 – Race Summary

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British runners dominate the Iznik Ultra race series, Iznik, Turkey.

Located just 2-hours away from Istanbul, Iznik is very much a quiet holiday resort for those in the know. Situated on an idyllic lake, the town comes to life as the Iznik Series of races arrive in town. The idea of Caner Odabasoglu (a keen ultra runner himself) and now in its 3rd edition, the races is very much a highlight of the Turkish racing season.

Offering 4-race distances, 130km, 80km, a classic marathon and a 10km, Caner and his team from MCR Racesetter have provided an opportunity for all. The 130km race is the longest single stage ultra in Turkey and therefore it appeals and has a loyal following from the ever-growing Turkish ultra running community.

In just 3-years, the races have grown in numbers. US ultra runner Amy Sproston raced the 80km in 2013 and set a new CR proving that interest and international appeal in Iznik and ultra running in Turkey is on the up! In 2014 a strong British contingent crossed the channel and joined runners from France, China, South Africa, Germany, Australia and New Zealand making the races a truly international event. Arriving in Bursa prepared for a stunning weekend of racing; the race or the racing didn’t disappoint.

130K

Marcus Scotney Iznik Ultra ©iancorless.com

Marcus Scotney Iznik Ultra ©iancorless.com

On the stroke of midnight in Iznik Square, participants ventured out onto a clockwise loop of Iznik Lake. The harder and more challenging part of the course, the first 60km would run in darkness, whilst the flatter and far more runnable sections would be taken in daylight. From the off runners separated with a small lead pack pushing the pace. However, Marcus Scotney (Montane) and Akin Yeneceli forged ahead and opened up a convincing lead ahead of John Bayne from New Zealand by the 11km mark. At cp1, Edwards arrived first closely followed by runner after runner. Something was wrong and it soon became clear that our front two runners had gone off course.

Iznik Ultra ©iancorless.com

Iznik Ultra ©iancorless.com

By the time they arrived well over 30-minutes had elapsed and Scotney had visible and vocal frustration at the dilemma, ‘That’s it, it’s all ruined now… what a waste!’ What followed was a master class in pacing and distance running, one-by-one, Scotney moved his way up the field using each runner ahead as a carrot. Closing the gap to 26-mins, 22-mins, and 16-mins and by the time he arrived at the 60-km mark Marcus was 4th with 6-mins to catch up. All the early protagonists who had set the early pace had faded whereas Scotney had become stronger and stronger. The big question mark would be could he hold on? Chasing Yavuz and Ivanovski from Macedonia, Scotney eventually took the lead of the race and never looked back. A course record had always been on Scotney’s mind and his wish came true, despite an epic detour, he arrived in Iznik 12 –hours, 53-minutes and 59-seconds later. The effort of his endeavor was clear to see. Mahmut Yavuz retained local celebrity status with 2nd place and Zhikica Ivanovski placed 3rd.

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The ladies race was a low-key affair with just 3-entrants. Previous 130km winner, Elena Polyakova would not defend her title after injury issues and therefore decided to race the marathon. This provided an open stage for local ultra runner and legend, Bakiye Duran to shine. Shine she did! Bakiye covered the course from start to finish in the lead with only Svetiana Ivanovski to worry about.

  1. Marcus Scotney (Montane) 12:53:59 new CR
  2. Mahmut Yavuz 13:11:55
  3. Zhikica Ivanovski 13:53:41
  1. Bakiye Duran 19:09:39
  2. Svetiana Stojanoska 22:27:08

80k

Jo Meek Iznik Ultra ©iancorless.com

Jo Meek Iznik Ultra ©iancorless.com

Jo Meek (Scott Running) and Tracy Dean (inov-8) set a blistering pace in the 80km race. Dean leading Meek over the first 10km with just a 1-min lead but at cp1, Meek took over the lead and never relinquished it. Dean pursued all day keeping Meek in her sights never allowing the gap to grow beyond 1-2 mins. However, stomach issues struck for Dean and post race she went on to say that she continually felt as though she was struggling and never felt comfortable. Meek however had her blinkers on and was pushing not only for the outright win but a new course record, a record set by Amy Sproston!

Aykut Celikbas Iznik Ultra ©iancorless.com

Aykut Celikbas Iznik Ultra ©iancorless.com

Aykut Celikbas (very much a pioneer of the Turkish ultra scene) had chased the dynamic duo of Dean and Meek all day and eventually moved into 2nd place after Dean dropped at 60-km.

Tracy Dean Iznik Ultra ©iancorless.com

Tracy Dean Iznik Ultra ©iancorless.com

Meek ran like a woman possessed, without doubt she is currently one of the most exciting prospects in the UK ultra running scene as her 2nd place at the 2013 Marathon des Sables and her victory at the 2014 The Coastal Challenge confirms. In the final 10km with flat trail and road, Meek pushed and crossed the line in sub 7-hours blasting the old CR to a new level. Celikbas and Kara placed 2nd and 3rd but the day belonged to Meek.

With Dean out of the race, Yasemin Goktas and Ayse Beril Basliail took 2nd and 3rd places in the female race. 

  1. Jo Meek (Scott Running) 6:52:17 new CR first lady and first overall
  2. Aykut Celikbas 7:41:34
  3. Firat Kara 7:46:07 (tbc)
  1. Jo Meek (Scott Running)
  2. Yasemin Goktas 9:45:34
  3. Ayse Beril Basliqil 9:54:45

Marathon

Robbie Britton Iznik Ultra ©iancorless.com

Robbie Britton Iznik Ultra ©iancorless.com

Taking the front of the race in the opening meters, Robbie Britton (inov-8) continued to extend his lead over the opening km’s and never looked back. Running strong with a permanent smile on his face, Britton reveled in the warmth of a sunny Turkish day and put to good use all his training of the past month on the island of La Palma in preparation for Transvulcania.

Benoit Laval Iznik Ultra ©iancorless.com

Benoit Laval Iznik Ultra ©iancorless.com

Benoit Laval (Raidlight) was Britton’s closest rival but it soon became clear, as each checkpoint came, that Britton was continually extending his lead the only question mark; what margin would he win by? On the line, Britton set a new CR of 3:08:19, a great time for a hilly and undulating marathon. Laval placed 2nd in 3:30:38 and Duygun Yurteri 3rd just over 1-min later 3:31:56.

Elenya Polyakova Iznik Ultra ©iancorless.com

Elenya Polyakova Iznik Ultra ©iancorless.com

Elena Polyakova is an ever-present runner at the Iznik series of races and a previous 130km champion. Due to injury, Polyakova decided to play safe and run the marathon, however, her class shone and not only did she place 4th overall but she had a convincing victory ahead of Aysen Solak and Brit, Helen Southcott in 3rd.

  1. Robbie Britton (inov-8) 3:08:19 new CR
  2. Benoit Laval (Raidlight) 3:30:38
  3. Duygun Yurteri 3:31:56
  1. Elena Polyakova 3:47:26
  2. Aysen Solak 3:51:01
  3. Helen Southcott 4:14:07

10k

Robbie Britton (inov-8) and Tracy Dean (inov-8) not content with racing in the 80km and marathon distances also towed the line for the 10km fun run the following day and both topped the podiums, Britton running a solid 34-min was impressive after his marathon exploits just 24-hours earlier.

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Iznik Ultra ©iancorless.com

Results: HERE

RACE IMAGES HERE

All images credit ©iancorless.com – all rights reserved

Top Brits head to Turkey for the Iznik Ultra race series, April 2014

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Now in its third year, the Iznik series of races in Turkey are assembling a strong UK contingent of runners to race over the marathon, 80km or 130km distances, featuring Jo MeekRobbie BrittonTracy DeanStu Air and Marcus Scotney. With several races on offer, Robbie Britton and Stu Air will race the marathon distance, Tracy Dean and Jo Meek the 80km and Marcus Scotney the 130km.

Map

Surrounded by eight countries, Turkey has significant geographical importance as it is at a crossroads with Europe and Asia. The noise and colour from an over populated Istanbul are completely contradicted by the sublime tranquility of Iznik, situated on a beautiful lake. Don’t get me wrong! Istanbul is remarkable; it’s an exciting place and certainly, any journey to this region should at least include one-day sight seeing around the old town. The Fire Tower, the Blue MosqueHippodromeGrand Bazaar and Sultanhamet Square; believe me, there is no shortage of things to do.

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Located in Bursa, on the banks of Lake Iznik, Caner Odabasoglu and his team have worked tirelessly to make the Iznik Races not only the premier event in Turkey but also with the 130km race, they also have the longest single stage race in the whole of the country.

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Running and particularly, Ultra running is not a big sport in this region, to that end, Caner with the help of the Iznik community have continually worked hard to put the races and the local community on the running map.

Profile

Using the Iznik Lake as a backdrop, all the races utilize the local terrain to not only provide a beautiful course but also a challenging course. All the elevation comes in the first 80 km’s, so, the marathon and the shorter ultra are very much about going up and down on trails that vary from single-track to wide rutted farm roads. From the town of Soloz (appx 67km) the course flattens and follows the Iznik Lake in a circular route tracing the perimeter to arrive back at the start some 130 km’s later.

Jo Meek ©iancorless.com

Jo Meek ©iancorless.com

Jo Meek (Scott Running) fresh from a victory at The Coastal Challenge multi-day race in Costa Rica has been eagerly awaiting this trip, I have been to Turkey before but only the touristic bits so travelling to Turkey this time to run through the areas I wouldn’t otherwise see holds a lot of appeal. See the culture as I experience the highs and lows of the countryside is a privilege anywhere but especially as a guest in a foreign country.”

Tracy Dean - inov-8

Tracy Dean – inov-8

Jo is right, racing in Turkey is a great opportunity to combine so many different elements, of course the opportunity to test oneself against new competition but also to see a new place and explore a new culture, Iznik has a wonderful history. The Aphasia Mosque amongst others for example intrigues me and it will be amazing to see the architecture of the Hoffman period. I am interested in seeing the tiles that Iznik has a reputation for producing. The main attraction though… food, ha ha to have Turkish delight and fish kebab will be a real treat, just not both on the same dish.” Explained Tracy Dean (inov-8).

Marcus Scotney - Montane

Marcus Scotney – Montane

Marcus Scotney (Montane) recently won the ‘Challenger’ race at The Spine in the UK, “I wasn’t aware of an ultra scene in Turkey, I hadn’t looked into opportunities until I heard about the Iznik ultra. I’m sure the competition will be very tough, especially from local people who will know the route and what the trails are like.”

Robbie Britton - inov-8

Robbie Britton – inov-8

Robbie Britton (inov-8) backs this up, “I’ve met a couple of Turkish ultra runners in the UK but I didn’t know much about the scene in Turkey itself. I like competition so hopefully there will be a few guys to enjoy the hills with and we can push each other along.“

Robbie has a reputation for running long and fast, he has represented GB at the 24-hour distance, however, in Iznik he will race the shorter (but hillier) marathon race, “I’m racing the marathon distance this time, a little shorter than usual but it looks like a tough event! The ups and downs look very similar to the profile at Transvulcania on the island of La Palma so I see it as a good chance to race some tough ascents and fly down some steep downhill’s!”

Stu Air - Ronda dels Cims

Stu Air – Ronda dels Cims

Stu Air (Scott Running) equally has gained a reputation for racing tough, technical and long events; in 2013 Stu had great results at Ronda dels Cims in Andorra and the tough Tor des Geants. Fresh from a top-10 placing at MSIG50 in Hong Kong, Stu too has chosen the marathon distance race, “I have chosen the Mountain Marathon 42km course, as I feel that this distance will help me focus on my weakness (speed) over some of the longer races. I have several races in 2014 which are 100-miles. Transvulcania (80km) on the island of La Palma is a few weeks after Iznik too, so I thought this race would be perfect to help me in preparation for this longer race.”

Caner and the team

Caner and the team

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 2013 edition will be bigger, better and potentially faster across all three key race distances… watch this space, the Brits are coming!

Race website: HERE

Follow the race at: iancorless.com and on Twitter @talkultra 

Athlete race calendars 2104: 

  • Jo Meek – Iznik Ultra, Comrades (South Africa) and Lakeland 50 (UK) Trail Running Championships.
  • Tracy Dean – Iznik Ultra and Lakeland 50 (UK) Trail Running Championships.
  • Marcus Scotney – Iznik Ultra, British 100km Championships and Ultra Tour of the Peak District (UK).
  • Robbie Britton – Iznik Ultra and Skyrunning Transvulcania La Palma 80km (La Palma).
  • Stu Air – Iznik Ultra, Skyrunning Transvulcania La Palma 80km (La Palma), Hardrock 100 (USA), Skyrunning Kima Trophy 50km (Italy) and Diagonale des Fous 160km (Reunion Island).

Athlete sponsors:

  • inov-8 – HERE
  • Montane – HERE
  • Scott Running – HERE 

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