DASK Anatolia Mountain Marathon. Bolu Mountains, Turkey.
A figure loomed in front. Having dispatched a delicious meal, my 8th glass
of wine, and with the camp fire roaring to the left I looked up at the
smiling figure in front of me. What ensued was the largest, juiciest
and most delicious slice of watermelon ever consumed handed to me by
one of our hosts. It all feels slightly bizarre and dream like, although
that could just be the copious quantities of Turkish wine, but here
is a rough account of the last few days (and preceding week)...
E-mails like this don't come through very often: ... this
year's event will be held on 16-18 July in Bolu Mountains (200km away
The event is offering to provide flight tickets and all expenses for
5 days in Turkey... I rubbed my eyes - flight tickets and expenses paid
for 5 days in Turkey - and the opportunity to do yet another Mountain
Marathon. No brainer. Three things had to happen - I needed to confirm
that Andy could go, book the time off work and confirm that we would
like to take up this uber generous offer from the organisers. The order
of those three things was not quite followed as stated (!!) but after
several phone calls and e-mails everything was sorted.
Thursday. Istanbul is very hot and very humid. Two seconds off the plane
and it is already clear that we are no longer in Northern Europe...
our bag containing many kilos of dried food had failed to keep up with
our transfer sprint through Amsterdam airport so with our hand luggage
only (luckily containing all race critical kit) we met Faika, a most
wonderful Turkish lady who was to be our host, and we sped off to the
Friday. The place amazing. Pine forest as far as the eye can see in every
direction. We went for a local reccie to check out the runnability of
the forest, the tracks and paths and to get our bearings. Later in the
day the other competitors started to arrive and much time was spent
on introductions, eating and snoozing. We learned our start time at
the evening briefing - 5.33am - and headed to bed.
Saturday. Dawn had just broken, we were given our map and checkpoint co-ordinates
and were off. We had a plan. Make the most of the fast ground to run
at a high tempo, use handrail features as much as possible to avoid
getting lost in the forest, slow down on the approach to checkpoints
to avoid a LAMM like disaster and imbibe electrolyte drink . We blasted
through the first day and into the lead by Checkpoint 2 and after heading
high over the mountaintops dropped back down to the overnight camp for
a much needed leg soak in the cool river.
Sunday. Again an early start which avoided the heat of the afternoon.
Using the same tactics as Saturday we soon ran into the lead again and
romped this shorter second day, which was predominantly on lower ground,
in good time. The lack of high running meant that there was no cooling
breeze as there had been on Saturday, and the obligatory leg cool in
the river at the finish was more of a get-your-body-temperature-back-to-something-resembling-normality
exercise necessary to avoid passing out on finishing. Back to Sunday
evening and after a wonderful afternoon of banter and the prize giving
it was time for dinner with our amazing hosts from DASK, Turkish wine
Monday. I was sad to leave the mountains and all of the awesome event
organizers who had made us so welcome in their country. After yet another
delicious Turkish breakfast we departed. Istanbul was still very hot
and very humid and we were greeted by our hold bag which had been hanging
out in lost property, at least we don't need to buy any more food for
our trip to Sweden next month. Back in Glasgow it was blissfully cloudy
and cool, what an awesome weekend.
Official results have yet to be posted but we won the long category (which
was quite similar in distance and elevation to the longest course in
the Highlander Mountain marathon but on faster ground) ! .