Cappadocia trail run racing past global rivals

ANKARA

At just five years old, the annual trail run in Turkey’s scenic Cappadocia region is racing past its global peers in growth, an executive from its chief sponsor told Anadolu Agency.

“The Salomon Cappadocia Ultra-Trail takes place in a beautiful landscape, a UNESCO heritage [site], Cappadocia, and is the fastest-growing race globally,” said Ceylan Ates, the export manager of Amer Sports, whose brands include Salomon, Arc’teryx, Peak Performance, Wilson, and Precor.

Saying that French-based Salomon has been the race’s title sponsor for four years running, Ates said: “With faith in the event’s long-term success, we will sign for another five years with Cappadocia, so it’s really a long-term investment.”

Cappadocia is famed for its valleys, plateaus, and hills, its fairy-tale landscape of cones, pillars, and mushroom-like chimneys, mysterious underground cities, houses carved into rocks, and rock-hewn chapels used by early Christians.

This rocky plateau was formed by natural processes spanning millions of years, with wind and rain eroding soft layers of volcanic ash and lava.

Praising the hospitality she found in Turkey and the services offered for runners and spectators alike, Ates said foreign participation in the race has been growing year after year.

Touting the number of different countries sending runners to the race, she explained: “Last year it was a little bit over 70 and this year it reached 80.”

The sixth edition of the race on Oct. 19-20 welcomed 2,650 runners, more than half of them coming from outside Turkey.

Ates said this year it was “super” to see new course records set in both the women’s and men’s categories, with the women’s especially taking a big leap forward.

“The women’s was 33 minutes faster than last year,” she said.

On Saturday, French runner Yannick Noel broke the course record in the 119K ultra-trail with a time of 11 hours 12 minutes and 7 seconds, beating the previous time by 27 seconds.

Australian Lou Clifton, the women’s runner-up in the Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji 165K (102-mile) this April, broke the Cappadocia ribbon in 12 hours and 41 minutes.

In the Salomon Cappadocia Ultra-Trail, athletes run on three different tracks: the 119-km (74-mile) ultra trail, the 63-km (39-mi) medium trail, or the 38-km (24-mi) short trail.

Salomon to invest more in women

Soaring participation in the race this year for women was heartening, said Ates, and will lead to more investment in that side.

“Women’s participation was quite high,” she said.

“The increase in the number of Turkish women runners in the race is significant, which gives me really the outlook that I need to invest much more in women, and Salomon will.”

So next year Salomon will launch women’s trail running camps, she added.

Number of foreign runners rose tenfold

Since the race began in 2014, the number of competitors has skyrocketed 1,370%, said Aydin Ayhan Guney, the owner of Argeus Travel, the event organizer.

“It attracted 180 runners in 2014, which grew to 1,566 in 2017, 1,955 in 2018, and 2,650 in 2019,” he said.

Foreign participation also saw an impressive increase in the last six years, rising from 5% to 55%.

Most of the foreign runners came from Iran, Russia, Ukraine, Romania and France, he explained.

On the rising participation by women, Ayhan said women runners constituted 35% of the total this year, up from 22% in 2016.

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