Runfire Cappadocia Turkey’s First Desert Marathon

Every Step Of This Difficult Six-Day Course Of Up To 250 Km Was An Adventure In Runfire Cappadocia, Which Is Accredited By Ultra Trail Du Mont Blanc, One Of The World’s Most Prestigious Marathons.

First week in July. Hot. Cappadocia is magical. We’re off to watch Runfire Cappadocia, which has brought the desert marathon concept to Turkey. We reach Nevşehir after an hour’s flight from Istanbul and settle into our hotel at Uçhisar. After a leisurely country breakfast at our hotel overlooking the Valley of Pigeons, we set out to tour the environs. Our first stop is the Open Air Museum at UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Göreme. After that we taste the famous ‘testi’ (jug) kebab in a stone mansion at Ortahisar, perched on the slopes of an enormous fairy chimney. After lunch we head in a group for Kızılçukur in a sort of bicycle share cab. This is one of the best spots in Cappadocia for viewing the sunset. Avanos is next. Gondola and jet boat tours bring Venice to Cappadocia in this town famous for its pottery workshops. But the real excitement is tomorrow when we will wake up at 4:30 and fly over Cappadocia’s mysterious valleys in a balloon. We’re revved up now for the start of Runfire.

Run this year for the first time, Runfire Cappadocia starts in front of Uçhisar Town Hall. Some 60 athletes are taking part in the race, which lasts exactly six days. There is participation from France, Denmark, Italy, Russia and South Africa, as well as from all over Turkey, in these mixed men’s and women’s races. Participating from Copenhagen, Soeren Kruse Lilleoere is representing diabetes sufferers. The total 244-kilometer course is, in a word, magnificent. Starting and ending at Uçhisar, it passes through Ürgüp, Göreme, Zelve, Çavuşin, Sinasos and the Ihlara Valley, climbing as high as 2,000 meters on its way past underground cities and through mysterious valleys. The Turkish athletes are the victors in the first day’s race, which takes three and a half to five and a half hours. The 95-kilometer run on the Salt Lake stage, one of the marathon’s most difficult and exciting legs, is completed in approximately 24 hours. The runners can carry only the food and supplies they will need during the race in their backpack. Water is supplied at regular intervals. Athletes who fail to have their ID marked at any checkpoint are considered to have dropped out of the race. And going off course for more than 200 meters carries a two-hour penalty. The runners stay at the main camping area following each stage and are required to consume a minimum of 2,500 calories per day. Runfire Cappadocia is a race of high-degree difficulty, because self-sufficiency is the key feature of an ultra marathon. Athletes who manage to finish the race receive the four points awarded for high degree of difficulty, which entitles them to take part in the world’s major ultra marathons. The winners become apparent on the sixth day of Runfire Cappadocia, which is a scene of fierce competition. With a time of 27 hours 59 minutes 43 seconds, Mahmut Yavuz is first in the men’s, and Elena Polyakova first in the women’s. Mehmet Ok is first in the Discovery 6G category, and Elif Tepeli is first in the women’s and Akın Yeniceli in the men’s in the Discovery 4G category. And Argos Culture and Arts takes corporate first for organizing the race. We congratulate all the athletes who entered the marathon. For more information: