Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Iznik Ultra 2019: 'This Was Harder Than Your Usual Effort'

If I had a euro for every time I thought 'F*CK THIS SH*T', I'd be a millionaire by now. I just failed to reach CP12 by 18:00, resulting in DQ. The winner of Iznik Ultra 100-miler (163 km) has already finished two hours ago. I sit down beside a hot wood burning stove in the middle of the room, slowly sipping a cup of tea in my cold hands, wondering how the hell did this crazy trip happen, and quite possibly resembling Leonardo di Caprio in the final scene of The Revenant.

The race begun in sunny cool weather before sundown on Friday. I was in high spirits and ahead my schedule the first 50K. After that the muddy sections started to slow me down. The mud stuck to my shoes, making them 2x heavier. I encountered a fellow competitor in the middle of the night, struggling through deep mud in his barefoot running shoes, and we both burst out laughing at the absurdity of this all. 

I was determined not to give up. I ran pretty well through a couple of rain showers and a river crossing to CP9 in Sölöz, 89 km. We got our drop bags and I changed my socks. I would have changed my shoes as well, but I didn't bring a spare pair. Iznik Ultra allows crewing at several aid stations, and now I understood pretty well why. I didn't have any crew of course.

Then the hailing and snowing started. It was definitely colder than the average. Then there was another rain shower. In Narlica a friendly volunteer bought me a cup of hot tea. They sent me off at 1:30pm, telling me CP11 was 9 km away, and the cutoff there would be 4pm. In the following sawtooth-profile trails I slipped in a extremely steep downhill. I grabbed a branch with both hands  and it stopped my fall.

I was happy to reach 116 km CP11 at 15:39, dirty and slightly worn out, but unharmed. They informed me that the cutoff was in fact 15:30, but they let me fill my water bottle and continue immediately anyway.

Then the mud got only worse, sucking my shoes like it wanted to swallow them. Probably only in dryer and warmer conditions I might have been able to finish within 30 hours. As warmth returned my battered body, I contemplated no one laying on their death bed wished they'd spent more time in the comfort zone. Certainly they would have chosen to get out there in the wild world and experience it all to the fullest. This experience provided solid training for toughness.

After returning to Istanbul by minibus and ferry, I learned only 21 runners had finished the full distance. Nobody in my 55+ age group finished. The final stage of Tour of Turkey was on TV. I went to see the cyclists finish their 100-miler beside Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque. The sun was shining again.


  1. The mud on the shows...says it all. Great report!

  2. Sounds like a crazy/ fun adventure definitely training you for toughness!

  3. TP - you are amazing! I'm not sure if I could come close to finishing as many events as you. Look forward to seeing you in June!

  4. Thanks Mr. Grand Slam, see you in Squaw!