Cave of Wonders: Touring Cappadocia Turkey

supped on Ottoman cuisine in a stone house at Cappadocia Home Cooking, and sipped Turkish wines at Argos’s nearby vineyard.

Cappadocia at night (RunKarlaRun.com)

When adventure calls, I answer. In July, I journeyed to the Runfire Cappadocia Ultra Marathon and 20K as a guest of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey, in conjunction with Argos in Cappadocia. My story for Shape.com focused on the race: What It Took to Conquer (Part of) the Runfire Cappadocia Ultra Marathon in Turkey.

What does it take to run 160 miles through the scorching Turkish desert? Experience, sure. A death wish? Maybe. As a road runner, I’m no stranger to long routes, but I knew signing up for the Runfire Cappadocia Ultra Marathon would be a mythic and mettle-testing adventure, even for a multi-marathoner like me.

I signed up for the RFC 20K—my first trail race ever—along with two more days of running. But I quickly learned that nearly 13 miles through Cappadocia would be the most difficult—and beautiful—miles I’ve ever encountered. Of the 100 races and countless runs I’ve logged on six continents, none has been as hot, hilly, humbling, and exhilarating as Runfire Cappadocia. How tough is this race? The winning time at any given road half-marathon is between 1 hour and 1 hour, 20 minutes. The winning time at the RFC 20K was 2 hours, 43 minutes. That winner was the only person to finish under 3 hours.

In addition to the race, I toured the sites of Cappadocia. Breathtaking. Stunning. Unique. Pick the adjective. Throw around some superlatives. Cappadocia deserves it.

Cave Dwelling & Hot Air Balooning in Cappadocia Turkey

Hot air ballooning over Cappadocia. (RunKarlaRun.com)

After 16 hours of travel from New York City on the delightfully luxurious Turkish Airlines (think foot rests and menus even in economy class), I made it to Argos in Cappadocia hotel in the village of Uchisar, my home for the next few days.

supped on Ottoman cuisine in a stone house at Cappadocia Home Cooking, and sipped Turkish wines at Argos’s nearby vineyard.

Argos in Cappadocia (RunKarlaRun.com)

Like many of the region’s buildings, Argos is a collection of hollows hewn from hoodoos. Once a monastery housing an extensive wine cellar and 3-mile tunnel cutting through the base of the rock, the hotel now features manses with street front facades, cave interiors, and a farm-to-table restaurant.

supped on Ottoman cuisine in a stone house at Cappadocia Home Cooking, and sipped Turkish wines at Argos’s nearby vineyard.

Argos’s terraces (RunKarlaRun.com)

A sunrise hot air balloon ride with Royal Balloon served as my introduction to the region in central Anatolia, Turkey’s heartland.

Cave of Wonders: Touring Cappadocia Turkey

Sunrise over Cappadocia (RunKarlaRun.com)

While soaring over rock formations known as “fairy chimneys,” it was easy to appreciate the grandeur of the terrain I was about to run.

Cave of Wonders: Touring Cappadocia Turkey

Cappadocia high (RunKarlaRun.com)

There is nothing else like it on this planet. The pink hues of Rose Valley, deep gorges of Ihlara Valley, craggy peak of Uchisar Castle, and trails through chimney-laden canyons promised a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. It was hard to imagine that I’d be surging through them on foot in just a few days.

Cave of Wonders: Touring Cappadocia Turkey

Sunrise and rainbows (RunKarlaRun.com)

The semi-arid Cappadocia has been home to ancient Hittites, Persians, Romans, Byzantine Christians, Seljuks, and Ottoman Turks in turn who left behind literal caves of wonders. The soft volcanic rock lining the earth makes for easy excavating. And dig they did—houses, hovels, churches and more.

Cave of Wonders: Touring Cappadocia Turkey

Hard-carved caves (RunKarlaRun.com)

The Göreme Open-Air Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a collection of 11th century monasteries and churches carved from the peaks of otherworldly volcanic sandstone.

Cave of Wonders: Touring Cappadocia Turkey

Goreme (RunKarlaRun.com)

I toured the breathtaking frescoes housed on the grotto walls in castle after castle carved from the earth.

Cave of Wonders: Touring Cappadocia Turkey

Frescoes line the churches (RunKarlaRun.com)

Cave of Wonders: Touring Cappadocia Turkey

Goreme (RunKarlaRun.com)

I spelunked through the ancient underground city of Derinkuyu (a subterranean series of tunnels and hollowed out holes to the naked eye), supped on Ottoman cuisine in a stone house at Cappadocia Home Cooking, sipped Turkish wines at Argos’s nearby vineyard, and tried traditional pottery techniques at Venessa Seramik.

Cave of Wonders: Touring Cappadocia Turkey

Turkish pottery wheel (RunKarlaRun.com)

But rather than talk about it, I’ll let the photos tell the story. Cappadocia really was picture perfect.

Caves of Wonders in Cappadocia Turkey

As mentioned above, I attended the Runfire Cappadocia Ultra Marathon as a guest of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Turkey in conjunction with Argos in Cappadocia. As always, all opinions are purely my own. I really do believe in being honest about my experiences. Seriously. For more information read my Disclosure Policy.

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Karla Bruning

About 

Karla Bruning is a race announcer at the TCS New York City Marathon + other major events, TV host for the New York City Triathlon + contributor to Shape, Redbook, Runner's World + other publications. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now it's her job. She's run 8 marathons, 30 halves, 10 triathlons + open water swims. When she's not running, talking about running or writing about running, she's snuggling her baby, spoiling her dog + compulsively traveling.

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10 2015

15 Comments Add Yours ↓

The upper is the most recent comment

  1. 1

    Absolutely gorgeous amazing trip! Super jealous…as always.
    Kellie recently posted..Yes, I’m Still AliveMy Profile

  2. 3

    I have the voice from Aladdin in my head saying “Cave of Wonders”! :) Oh wow. These pictures are breathtaking. Such amazing terrain and that hotel looks incredible!! Taking a ride in a hot air balloon is on my bucket list – but being able to take one over that terrain – wow!

    • Karla Bruning
      4

      I kept thinking of Aladdin the whole time I was there! A hot air balloon is a must. I did one over the Serengeti in Tanzania and now here. Both were simply incredible!

  3. 5

    Seriously unreal! What an incredible hotel! I love the photos you took. It seems like you can’t take a bad photo in that region. I want to go to Turkey but now I want to go even more.
    Elle recently posted..How to Make GREAT Race Signs!My Profile

    • Karla Bruning
      6

      You’re right, there wasn’t a bad photo to be had. It was just gorgeous. And the hotel was really fun! I slept SO well in such a dark room!

  4. Merri Fernandez #
    7

    Wow Karla! This is definitely a once in a lifetime adventure. I would love to hear more about your experience during the run. The terrain looks pretty intimidating. Thank you for taking us along for the ride.

    • Karla Bruning
      8

      Thanks, Merri! I’ll definitely be posting about the run too. It was very intimidating, but a fun adventure once I just gave myself over to the experience!

  5. 9

    I feel like my go-to comment on your blog is that I’m jealous of your life, but, for reals…HOW FREAKIN’ AMAZING ARE THESE PHOTOS?!

    • Karla Bruning
      10

      Haha, I think I took 1800 photos. No joke! It was that gorgeous.

  6. 11

    Wow, this trip looks AMAZING! I don’t know much about Turkey, so I’m not sure what I would have expected, but these pictures make me really want to visit one day, it’s beautiful!
    Danielle recently posted..Weekly Training RecapMy Profile

  7. 13

    This is now added to my bucket list of places to visit. Thank you for sharing the great photographs. What a unique place!
    Judith recently posted..Decisions, Decisions…My Profile

  8. 15

    I also participate in Marathon event whenever it happens in my city. But, Marathon event organized in Cappadocia would be a thrilling experience. I can imagine that through the pictures you have posted.

    I once visited Cappadocia with my friends and I must say that this place is truly a nature’s beauty.

    I like the way you posted pictures and shared everything about Cappadocai with your readers. Thanks for sharing the post. :)



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