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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. DSC_0519A 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.

The entrance to the hotel.DSC_0522

We booked a deluxe suite room and are so glad that we did.DSC_0428 DSC_0414

The terrace on the top of the hotel was a relaxing place to eat breakfast and provided a great view of the city, especially at night!DSC_0433

Little did we know just how close to the start/finish line we were. This was our view from our hotel.DSC_0435

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.DSC_0530

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.IMG_0054

While we were eating dinner, our friends who were going to be running the 36k, called and told us they were there. So we met up with them and went with them to the packet pick up and race briefing.DSC_0441

We showed them were it was since it wasn’t easy to find. After they got their race packets, we decided to take a few pictures next to our respective race signs.DSC_0439

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.teresagrouppic

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. pastaparty

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.

At 6:15 am, we headed over to the start line, got checked in (so they knew we were on the course), and took some time to take a few pictures.DSCN1591

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.DSCN1595

One more shot of the start before we began the race of a lifetime!DSCN1596

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! 🙂12182734_949262161786845_1851386767834449184_o

Photo Credit: Brian Hordes

A nice shot of the front runners running through Urgup, Turkey! That’s our hotel in the background to the left of the Mosque.12034485_949252535121141_7141506196179173932_o

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.DSCN1598 DSCN1601 DSCN1602 DSCN1603 DSCN1604 DSCN1605 DSCN1613

 The picturesque landscape was what drew us in to run this race. Simply amazing!

Our first obstacle were some uneven stairs to run down. Little did we know that these stairs would turn out to be one of the easiest things we would conquer that day.DSCN1614

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!

The ground was already wet here, but it was just the beginning. This was the last photo I took for a while due to the rain.DSCN1616

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.rope

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!

At 13 miles into the race, we stopped, dug out the camera again, and took a few pictures at the top of Sunset Point in Goreme.DSCN1621

 It was still raining. We were soaked and covered in mud, but we were still SMILING!DSCN1618Even 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.DSCN1619 DSCN1620

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.

I did manage to snap a couple of quick pictures before we headed up the hill of the mud that we had been running through!DSCN1622DSCN1623

Once we made it to the top, we were able to grab a little bit of fuel and some Cola at the checkpoint. That Cola tasted AMAZING!DSCN1625

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.

The Uchisar Castle. At least part of it.DSCN1624View from the top! Look at those crazy clouds! 
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Ready to continue our journey through Cappadocia.DSCN1629

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.

Yes, this is a picture from the same day! Hard to believe after seeing what the morning looked like. In the background is Rose Valley, which we end up running through a little bit later. DSCN1630

These were taken just after we got out of Love Valley and heading back towards Goreme. DSCN1631 DSCN1632

After we ran back through Goreme, checkpoint number 3, we headed towards Rose Valley.DSCN1633 DSCN1634 DSCN1635 DSCN1636

Still smiling about 21 miles into the race! And happy that we were finally drying out. DSCN1637

Another beautiful shot of the Cappadocia region! DSCN1638

We saw our shadows…finally! 😉 DSCN1639

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!DSCN1640

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. DSCN1643 DSCN1644 DSCN1645 DSCN1646 DSCN1647 DSCN1648

Running through Rose Valley!DSCN1649 DSCN1650 A quick selfie with Rose Valley behind us!DSCN1652

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. DSCN1653 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. DSCN1654After the checkpoint, THIS is what was waiting for us!

Yes, those are people at the top! DSCN1656 And where we were headed! DSCN1657 Looking back down at the town of Cavusin from about half-way up the hill. DSCN1658 Still climbing and definitely not easy terrain, but at least it wasn’t raining! DSCN1659 A long slow climb…DSCN1660…but the view…magnificent!
DSCN1661 Looking down again. DSCN1662 View from the top!DSCN1663

We made it! DSCN1665_1 My Rocky Balboa pose, that Rob made me do at the top! DSCN1666 Thumbs up! Feeling pretty good here and at this point (between 28 and 29 miles) my longest run ever! DSCN1667 Rob did it! (Didn’t realize his eyes were closed until we got home!) DSCN1668

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. DSCN1669 Looking down at part of Rose Valley!DSCN1670 DSCN1671 DSCN1672 Continuing our trek to Akdag! This part of the run was pretty nice and we were able to keep a decent pace. DSCN1673 AKDAG! Only 10.2 km left! DSCN1674

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!

This was one of those tough sections and it was at least 35 miles into the race at this point. DSC_0538

After we got through that, we continued down through this…DSC_0540 DSC_0537

…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. 😦

Thankfully, another finisher offered to take a picture of us with our medals and vests, so this is all we have!DSCN1677_1

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!

Here is the elevation for the first 23 miles of the race…map1

…and the elevation for the second part of the race. map2

Definitely not an easy course, but definitely worth it! The experience and the beautiful scenery is something we will never forget.

Race swag! DSC_0735 Back home with our medals and shirts!DSC_0722 DSC_0711

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