In 2014, some very experienced Turkish runners have decided to organize an ultra-trail race in Cappadocia, in order to create in this amazing landscape a dream-race for every runner! In 2015 we - at Advendure - discovered the race, and published an extended article, presenting the race to the Greek mountain running community. After that, several runners from our country travelled in Cappadocia and lived the experience of running one of the three races (110, 60 & 30K) of the organization, with Nikos Rodopoulos of Tecnica Blizzard Hellas be the winner of the 60K race (6:29).
Before the unfortunate events in Turkey this summer, the interest of Greek runners to run the Salomon Cappadocia Ultra-Trail® was even higher, but it seemed to freeze after the events, with only 7 runners registered so far.
Advendure publish today an exclusive interview of Mr. Koray Murmann, head of the Salomon Cappadocia Ultra-Trail® organization, in order to clarify things, but also to provide a deep knowledge about the dream behind the race and the developments as a future event of the Ultra-Trail® World Tour. We also discuss the technical details of the race, the most important beauties of the landscape, the very rich parallel activities for the runners and their companions and of course the special prices in hotels and airport transfers.
You can find all the technical details of the Salomon Cappadocia Ultra-Trail® in this article, and at the official web-page of the race, together with the 2015 results. Other articles that Advendure published regarding the race are here, here and here.
[Advendure]: What was the initial inspiration and motive for organizing the Cappadocia Ultra-Trail®? How did it all start?
[Koray Murmann]: The idea of the race came from Turkish runners, Girgin brothers; passionate Turkish runners who are the finishers of UTMB, TDS, 4K, Eiger and many more races for several times. After experiencing the hundreds of trails of this beautiful geography, they wanted to organize a trail running here and Salomon Cappadocia Ultra-Trail® was born in 2014.
[Advendure]: The race hosted 752 runners in 2015, from several countries, 5 times more than its first year. Now, you have already reached 900 runners with 42% to be foreign runners coming from 51 countries! Quite impressive. You are also nominated as a future race from Ultra-Trail® World Tour, which is also a very promising fact. What is your dream about this race?
[Koray Murmann]: First of all, the main reason is the surreal landscape of Cappadocia, one of a kind place on Earth and it is like a giant playground for trail runners, it is unique and also a Unesco World Heritage Site. It has been welcoming millions of people for several decades, as it was one of the first settlements of Christians and the organization does its best to make all the runners feels like at home. Finally our dream for Salomon Cappadocia Ultra-Trail® is to make it a dream race for every runner.
[Advendure]: Cappadocia region has a great geological and historical interest and it is an UNESCO world heritage site. Are there any parallel cultural activities that you have designed for the runners and their companies? What do you suggest to all of us, visiting the area for running the race, in order to enjoy the most out of Cappadocia?
[Koray Murmann]: Almost every trail ends up in a historical church or million years old fairy chimneys and valleys. We organize daily tours for runners and supporters which cover most of the area with professional tour guides and some local cuisine. We also offer Hot Air Balloon rides with special prices for runners and supporters over Cappadocia to view that stunning geography from a bird’s eye view that last 60 minutes.
[Advendure]: Could you tell as a few things about the technical specifications of the races, especially for the 110 & 60K? We understand from the altitude profile that the highest point is not more than 1.600 meters and that the vertical ascent of the 110K is +3.360, which is no so big for ultra-trail races above 100 Km. Is the continuous up-and-down and the hilly/rocky nature of the trails the main difficulty? What about the terrain, is it technical or soft and runnable?
[Koray Murmann]: It is a scenic run, it is fast, but with lots of up and downs. The first 60km of the 110K is the course of 60K. First 60km trail is mostly through the valleys of Cappadocia, mostly single tracks and technical, while the last 55km is passes through some plateaus and small villages. Runners will be amazed running through cave tunnels, fairy chimneys and amazing valleys. Almost every kilometer is full of surprises and stunning views.
[Advendure]: Probably the most important factor for the success of a race is the beauty of its trails and of the landscape. The chimney rock formations, the caves, the design of the villages, the valleys and the volcanic peaks around seem very interesting. Tell us a few things about the nature images that we’re going to enjoy in Cappadocia.
[Koray Murmann]: The race starts from Urgup, one of the largest towns of the region and after a few kilometers, runners start passing through some small villages where they are welcomed warmly by locals and then they pass through valleys with breath-taking views and climb up to highest point of the region; Uchisar, best preserved village with men-carved rock houses and best boutique hotels of the region, then again followed by mystical valleys of the region like the Love Valley, the Rose Valley and Red Valley, full of different rock formations. The runners cannot stop letting their imagination go wild and make these rock formations look like camels, dogs, seals and birds. One of the best part of the trail is that it passes through some non-touristy valleys and high hills, where they can enjoy the nature and stunning views of Cappadocia.
[Advendure]: Another important factor for an ultra-race is the weather conditions. Greek runners that ran Salomon Cappadocia Ultra-Trail® in 2015, indicated in their reports the continuous rain during the races. What are the climate conditions in the region in late October? What equipment do you think is necessary for running the race without problems?
[Koray Murmann]: The risk of rain in late October is normally low. While it was sunny and warm in 2014, it was rainy in the morning of the race in 2015 and it cleared up in the afternoon. Since the surface of the trails in Cappadocia is full of volcanic soil, it doesn’t become muddy. This is an advantage for the runners. The average temperature at the end of October in Cappadocia is around 18-20 Degrees Celsius during the days and around 10-12 degrees Celsius at night time.
[Advendure]: Advendure first presented the race to the Greek mountain and ultra-trail community in 2015, with several runners from our country running the race this year. In 2016, there was again a great interest for the race, but the political and terrorist events that took place late summer in Turkey seemed to freeze the registration procedure from Greek athletes, due to the uncertainty about their security. Till now only 7 athletes registered for the three races. On the other hand, we see a very big increase this year in participations from other countries (athletes from 51 countries have already registered), including several hot names from elite ultra-trail athletes. Greeks desire to come and run to Cappadocia, but they want to feel safe. It is important to hear about this critical factor from you. Do they have to concern about their security? Or the situation is completely normal and safe now?
[Koray Murmann]: As you know, we had an unexpected coup attempt on 15th July but government and Turkish public stand against it strong and it has been over in 12 hours and defeated. All we are united back again and civil life has become normal so quickly. Cappadocia has always been on the safe side of any terrorist events and has never been affected by any of those acts. In the last 30 days, we have completed 3 big sports events in Cappadocia with several international participants: Aladaglar Sky Trail and two big cycling events. As a leading sports events’ organizer in Turkey, we are sure all our Greek friends will have a great time in Cappadocia.
[Advendure]: Turkey and Greece are neighbors. There is a significant tourist exchange between them and ultra-trail races are an important form of athletic tourism. Also, if the race offers some parallel cultural activities is also of great cultural touristic interest, and in case of our countries where food is exceptional, culinary tourism also plays strong. Have you designed any special packages for Greek runners, in terms of price reductions for travelling, accommodation etc?
[Koray Murmann]: We always thought ‘’It is all about sports’’. For that reason, we always do our best to welcome any sportsmen in our events. We have special contracts with hotels which offer special prices for the Salomon Cappadocia Ultra-Trail® runners and their companies. We also provide complimentary door-to-door airport transfers for the runners between Kayseri & Nevsehir Airports and any hotels in Cappadocia. We also have pre and post travel packages for the participants that covers only Cappadocia or longer travel packages that also covers Istanbul and Ephesus.
[Advendure]: Salomon is the new title sponsor of Salomon Cappadocia Ultra-Trail®, as we saw at the relative announcement. Tell us a few things of this change in sponsorship for the race. What do you expect from this cooperation?
[Koray Murmann]: We are very proud to have our new title sponsor, Salomon. It gives us a new vision. It helps our event to be more international and gives us the chance to meet world famous runners of Salomon Team.
[Advendure]: Salomon Cappadocia Ultra-Trail® is a future event (possibly in 2017) of the Ultra-Trail® World Tour. What do you expect from this? Do you think the balance is positive for an ultra-race in terms of what you give and what you get? It will be very interesting to hear your opinion, because there are some Greek ultra-trail races that may be interested for such cooperation.
[Koray Murmann]: Ultra Trail® World Tour brings us feedbacks from runners of all other races which shortens the know-how gain. Instead of waiting to experience it you get the answers and solutions from the community. Other fact of it is they support Elite Runners and encourage them to discover new races of the World. That’s why we find being a future event of the Ultra-Trail® World Tour so valuable.
[Advendure]: Matthias Krah and Francesca Canepa won the race in 2015. We also see some elite names registered this year, like Amy Sproston and Graziana Pe. What was the impression about the race for Matthias and Francesca and also what Amy and Graziana expect from their participation? It would be very interesting to have some words from them.
[Koray Murmann]: I will pass you their thoughts with one sentence; Francesca Canepa: “The landscape is simply amazing, you do it, I would say. Cappadocia is my second home now” and Matthias Krah: “Τhe race course is one of the most scenic I have run so far. You get amazing views of the world natural heritage sight. It a rather fast course with some steep short climbs to enjoy. You also run through rather remote villages, which gives a very special experience. Being accommodated in a cave hotel was unique as well as the hospitality of the people. Finally there has been a lot of delicious local food to enjoy. Especially after the race you could not get me away from the turkish sweets". Graziana Pe who races this year said: "I'm very happy and excited to experience this new adventure in this beautiful country. I can not wait to embark on this journey."
[Advendure]: Mountain running and ultra-trail have an impressive development internationally, which is evident both from the numbers of athletes participating, and also from the hundreds of very interesting races of every distance and structure. October is a very hot period for ultra-trail races, especially in Greece. Why should someone choose the Salomon Cappadocia Ultra-Trail®?
[Koray Murmann]: Cappadocia has been the cradle of civilizations for thousands of years. You not only come to Cappadocia to run the unique and scenic trails of it, but also to visit churches, underground cities, rock castles and caravanserais. Cappadocia is a Unesco World Heritage site and has over 600 cave churches with beautiful and well preserved paintings and frescoes. They are all Greek Orthodox churches.
Advendure is media sponsor of the race and will participate with Dimitris Troupis in Salomon Cappadocia Ultra-Trail®, after being invited and hosted by the race organizers, whom we want to thank deeply, for their kindness. We will cover with facebook and twitter posts the atmosphere during the race weekend and we’ll publish an extended post-race article, presenting our whole experience not only from the race but from the region too.
Photo©: Cappadocia Ultra-Trail®