Sky Erciyes – Sky Ultra Trail 2018 – Images and Summary

The Erciyes Ultra Skytrail was a seriously tough and challenging 64km race with 3000m of vertical gain held under an incredible hot and sunny Turkish day. A high altitude race, it starts and concludes at 2200m. Over the 64km it reaches 2600m on two occasions but it rolls along repeatedly dropping and rising. With over 40km covered, the route drops to just over 1600m and then once again climbs back to 2600m over 10km – it is tough! HERE

The men’s race had a triple whammy of Kemal Kukul, Cevdet Alyilmaz and Mehmet Zahir Kul who ran within minutes of each other all day, they crossed the line in 8:38:12. In the ladies’ race it was Aylin Savaci Armador who took top honours in 11:50:52 ahead of Sevil Toker and Deniz Berke, their times 12:02 and 14:40.

60km results HERE

The 25km goes around high plateau, often higher than 2000mt. Occasionally, the trail runs over eroded lava rock surfaces, the event is a point-to-point and concludes at the ski centre. HERE

The event was a result repeat from the previous day’s VK (here) with Ahmet Arslan taking victory over Pau Capell. The duo ran close together in the early stages but Capell was feeling some soreness in his thigh and took and extended break to ease it off. Arslan pulled away and at the line the gap was 4-minutes, 2:13:37 and 2:17:06 – the duo obliterating the old course record. Serdar Unalan placed 3rd in 2:52:31 after Ahmet Bayram holding that position for most of the day.

As in the VK, Elena Polyakova once again took victory, her time 3:12:53 which was good enough for 7th overall. Bike Geckinli and Esther Koopmanschap were 2nd and 3rd.

25km results HERE

The 10km is trail run that takes places along the eastern hills of the Erciyes Volcano in Kayseri. The distance is about 12 km with an elavation loss of 830 m+. HERE

 

10km results HERE

Mount Erciyes is the highest mountain in Central Anatolia, the mountain has a radius of 18 km and covers and area of 1100 km2. The race hub for the weekend was the Ericyes Ski Resort, near the city of Kayseri. For many centuries Kayseri has been an important hub on the silk road. In ancient times the city was famous for the fast horses bred in her stables. throughout history it took different names under different kingdoms, consecutively, Mazaka in Tabal kingdom period, Eusebia during Capadyoccian Kingdom, Caeseria in Roman period and Kayseri in under Turkih reigns of Karamanoglu, Selçuk and Ottoman Kingdoms.

All images will be posted HERE should you wish to purchase

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.

Iznik Ultra 2016 – Race Report and Summary

The sands of the Sahara lured me away from the Iznik Ultra this year. A real shame as this race has been a fixture on my calendar all the way back to the 2012 edition when I won the 60km race. Iznik and Turkey are special places and the Iznik Ultra provides a wonderful opportunity to combine running and sightseeing.

 

The people are magical, the calm tranquility of the lake Iznik is sublime, the surrounding mountains are impressive and the combination of great food, hospitality and a committed and dedicated race team headed by race director Caner, make this experience a ‘must’ for the enthusiastic runner.

 

Not wanting to miss out on the action, I asked good friend and fellow photographer Jordi Saragossa and adventure journalist/ athlete Tobias Mews to work on behalf of iancorless.com at the 2016 edition of the race. 

 

Enjoy the journey!

 

Words by Tobias Mews/ Images by ©jordisaragossa

‘You’re first time in Turkey?’ the old man remarked in surprisingly good English, as I watched the sun behind Lake Iznik, the third largest lake in Turkey.  The water was incredibly calm with not a ripple in sight, despite being 32kms long and 10kms wide. It was also mind blowingly beautiful, offering an unparalleled level of peace. I couldn’t help but wish I had a stone to skim along it’s smooth surface.

‘It is,’ I reply, although I was already silently vowing to return.  As through thrilled with this fact and despite my protests, he offers me a cup of tea – not a cup of Earl Grey, but one of the Turkish variety. They drink the stuff by the gallon.  Sipping away, I mused on the notion that I no idea how stunning this country was or how kind everyone is. Turkey, I would soon discover, is a truly magical place.

I’ve often said that if you’re going to put yourself through any degree of suffering during an ultra, and let’s face it, who doesn’t have a moment where they question their sanity, then you might as well do it somewhere beautiful. It’s a mantra that I’ve held to my core and to date, have not been left disappointed through my travels and races as an adventure journalist.

Rather embarrassingly, and perhaps to my shame, I’d not considered Turkey a running destination, which is perhaps why I’d never visited this ancient cradle of civilization.  Too many lasminute.com cheap package holidays, slightly less than pos