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.
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.
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.
A sunrise hot air balloon ride with Royal Balloon served as my introduction to the region in central Anatolia, Turkey’s heartland.
While soaring over rock formations known as “fairy chimneys,” it was easy to appreciate the grandeur of the terrain I was about to run. Read the rest of this entry →