As some of you know, my husband and I ran our first ultra-marathon on October 24th, in beautiful Cappaodocia, Turkey. Here is the much anticipated race recap! Enjoy!
Friday, October 23rd
We arrived at our hotel in Urgup around 2 pm. We decided to stay in a cave hotel right in the city where the race started and finished. The hotel we stayed at was Hotel Cave Konak. A fantastic cave hotel that we both highly recommend! The staff was super helpful and very nice, the rooms were clean, the terrace had a great view, and breakfast was delicious.
We were literally a 2 minute walk from our hotel room to the start/finish line. It definitely made race morning less stressful.
After we got settled into our hotel and learned a little bit about the city from the owner of the hotel, we went to find our way to pick up our race packets. It took us a while to figure out where we needed to go, but once we did, it was super easy and we were all set for race day.
We were getting hungry, so we headed back up towards the center of the city to get something to eat. We ended up finding a restaurant that was actually serving spaghetti! It ended up being our favorite restaurant to eat at while in Urgup.
A wonderful small town restaurant with delicious food, great service, and great prices. We ate here 3 times and every time the food was spectacular. My favorite was the Ev Mantisi (homemade ravioli) with garlic. Rob had the Beyti and we shared the Borek.
Rob and I with the 60k course sign. Thanks for the picture Sarah and Teresa!
Then we were trying to take a selfie with all 4 of us (which wasn’t working out very well) and one of the race volunteers asked if we would like him to take one of us. So we ended up with a nice one of the 4 of us together.
Photo Credit: Teresa
We still had about 30 minutes before the technical briefing, so we went next door and chatted while Sarah and Teresa grabbed a little something to eat. After the 45 minute technical briefing, we made our way to the pasta party.
Photo Credit: Sarah
This was by far the best pasta party I have been to before a race. There was a ton of food, the lines were quick, and there was a lot of seating. It was a little chilly because it was windy, but the whole race atmosphere was incredible.
Once we were full of pasta and other treats, we headed back to our respective hotels for a good night’s sleep before the big day!
Saturday, October 24th – RACE DAY
Our day started at 4:30 am! We got up, ate some oatmeal, then got ready for the biggest race of our lives so far. Eating proved to be a challenge, as nerves were getting the best of both of us, but we finally managed to get something into our stomachs. We knew we were going to need that fuel to get us started.
We saw so many people that we knew from Ankara at the start! It was nice to actually know some of the other runners that we would be running with. We talked with them while we waited for the start of the race.
The closer to 7 am it got, the more it started to fill in, but definitely the smallest race I have ever run. We still started pretty close to the front of the pack, which didn’t matter to us because our main goal was just to finish the race.
And we’re off! A few shots of the official start of the 110k and 60k races. If you look close enough you can see Rob in red on the right side next to the Voyager sign, but not me next to him because I am short! 🙂
Photo Credit: Brian Hordes
Photo Credit: Brian Hordes
Once we started running all of the nerves were gone. I remember saying, “There’s no turning back now!” The first 5 miles of the race were wonderful. The weather, as you can see from the pictures below, was very overcast and cool. I was able to take some pictures while we were running and we were able to enjoy the beautiful landscape that this area had to offer.
The picturesque landscape was what drew us in to run this race. Simply amazing!
And then it started…the dreaded “r” word…RAIN! At first it was just a light drizzle, which was definitely something we could handle, but 15 to 20 minutes later it really started raining and hard!
Shortly after this photo, the sky opened up and it poured! We stopped under a tree to put on our waterproof shells. Thank goodness we had them because they definitely got put to good use.
IT RAINED HARD FOR THE NEXT 3 HOURS! And rained for a total of 3 hours and 20 minutes. I didn’t get a lot of pictures during this time because the terrain was so technical and difficult due to dealing with all of the water and mud on the course. The mud was so slippery that Rob ended up falling around mile 12. He landed on his wrist and it immediately started swelling. We really thought he had broken it. I asked him if he wanted to stop and he said no. At this point he was pretty much down to using only his right hand to help him with any of the obstacles that we encountered, which ended up being a lot more than we were expecting.
The hardest obstacle we came across was a steep decline with a rope to use for support! I was so scared when I saw this because when we hit this point, it was still raining and a muddy mess. The picture below shows what it looked like when the 30k runners got there.
Photo Credit: Teresa
Of course Rob had me go in front of him. I didn’t know how I was going to do it. I climbed over both ropes and grabbed onto the main rope with both hands as tight as I could. Thankfully there were a couple of guys that went down ahead of me because when I got to the bottom of the rope I didn’t know how I was going to let go and make it down the rest of the hill without falling. One of the guys braced himself against a tree at the bottom and told me to come on and that he would stop me. He did! I managed to make it down without falling! Runners are awesome!
Poor Rob came down after me bracing himself with his right hand on the rope and only using his left hand to guide him, as he couldn’t put any pressure on his wrist. I stayed at the bottom of the hill to help Rob stop, if he needed it, but he was able to stop himself just short of me.
Needless to say that mile definitely slowed us down a bit. At this point in the race, we were already feeling defeated from the rain, mud, and terrain, but knew we had put in too much time with our training to be defeated.
So we kept going…and the next mile was better…by 12 minutes. So our faith had been restored…at least for now!
It was still raining. We were soaked and covered in mud, but we were still SMILING!Even though it was raining, it was beautiful and a nice break from the technical terrain, as we were going to be heading into the town for a mile or so.
After running through Goreme the first time, we were on our way to the second checkpoint…Uchisar. Unfortunately, due to the rain, I didn’t get any pictures of the beautiful scenery on the way up the hill to the Uchisar Castle. I really wish I would have because it was amazingly beautiful! I have never seen anything like it before.
By the time we were leaving the checkpoint it had finally stopped raining, so I got my camera out and snapped a few pictures from the top before we continued on our way.
Not long after we left Uchisar and were on our way through Love Valley and headed back to Goreme, the sun came out and made the second half of the run much more enjoyable.
Rose Valley was familiar territory for us, as we had hiked through some of it the first time we visited Cappadocia. Even though some of it was familiar, we still hit some sections and obstacles that we were not ready for. First up was a very tight section that was barely wide enough for one foot in front of the other.
Then there were 3 ladders to climb down through the caverns. At the first steep ladder there was a huge Kangal wild dog that had somehow managed to get down into the cavern. He was trying to get down the ladder, but everyone there was telling him not to do it. By the time we got through there he had not attempted to actually get down the ladder, but unfortunately, we don’t know how he was going to get out of there. So sad! It was hard for us to get down into there and to get back out.
The last obstacle through that section was another set of ladders, but this time it wasn’t just a few steps of a ladder. This time it was 2 full ladders to climb up that were built into the rock! I made sure to get a picture of these ones before we went up them and through a cave. Glad these weren’t wet when we had to climb up them!
After the caverns and caves through the first part of Rose Valley, we began another climb to run across the side of the valley. The views were absolutely breathtaking! We still needed to watch our footing though, as some spots were quite rocky and narrow.
We ran along the side of the rocks in the background on our way to Cavusin and checkpoint number 4. We were about 25 miles into the run at this point.
Running through the town of Cavusin. I especially liked the stone road at this point in the run. It was nice to be able to make up a little bit of time. Checkpoint number 4 and almost 28 miles in! We took a few extra minutes at this checkpoint to get some much needed water and some more Cola, as we knew what was coming up next! I am not a big Cola drinker, but it was amazing and gave me just what I needed to continue. After the checkpoint, THIS is what was waiting for us!
Yes, those are people at the top! And where we were headed! Looking back down at the town of Cavusin from about half-way up the hill. Still climbing and definitely not easy terrain, but at least it wasn’t raining! A long slow climb……but the view…magnificent!
Looking down again. View from the top!
We made it! My Rocky Balboa pose, that Rob made me do at the top! Thumbs up! Feeling pretty good here and at this point (between 28 and 29 miles) my longest run ever! Rob did it! (Didn’t realize his eyes were closed until we got home!)
After we made it to the top, we began our run across the top towards Akdag! Our final checkpoint before the finish back in Urgup. Looking down at part of Rose Valley! Continuing our trek to Akdag! This part of the run was pretty nice and we were able to keep a decent pace. AKDAG! Only 10.2 km left!
In Akdag, we saw some American fans coming to cheer their family members in. They saw us and told us, “You got this! You are almost there! You look great!” Definitely the boost we needed. Thank you!
Considering everything we had already accomplished to this point in the race, what we had left, was pretty easy. There were a couple of difficult sections, but we knew we were going to finish, something we weren’t so sure about 12 miles into the race!
…and finally…10 hours and 16 minutes after we started, we crossed the FINISH LINE hand-in-hand. Unfortunately, we are very disappointed that we do not have a finisher’s photo, even though there were photographers at the finish line and we were the only ones crossing the line at that time. 😦
We were so happy to finish the race and to finish strong! We were flying down the shoot! We finished the last 1/4 mile with a best pace of 8:43. Not bad after 39 miles!
Definitely not an easy course, but definitely worth it! The experience and the beautiful scenery is something we will never forget.
Overall, it was a nice race and we enjoyed it, except for the rain and mud! The course was well labeled, especially for such a long race. There were only a couple of sections were we really needed to stop and look to figure out which way we needed to go. So definitely impressed with that, as I was worried about getting lost.
Our major complaint is the lack of photographers and photographs from the professionals at the race. We understand that it was raining for over 3 hours of the race, but we were out on the course for over 10 hours and we do not have a single picture of us that we didn’t take ourselves! The only picture that we truly cared to have was the one of us crossing the finish line and NOTHING! However, there are pictures of the people who finished a couple of minutes ahead of us and of a girl who finished 3 minutes after us! Considering how small the race was, I can not believe how few pictures there are of the entire race. It seems like unless you were an elite runner or towards the front of the race that you didn’t get any pictures. Very disappointing, especially considering the training and time we put into preparing for this race.
We took the opportunity to run this race this year because we knew it would be our only chance to ever run it! Are we still glad we did, even though we have no actual race photos? Yes! Definitely a race to remember!
Thank you for reading!
~Brooke & Rob