Saturday, November 14, 2015

Trotting in Turkey

Not much. That was the expectation, and it also turns out to be the reality. Our Turkey trip (for more on that, see my travel blog post) involves staying only one or sometimes two nights in small hotels before packing up and leaving early for the next destination. This kind of itinerary is great for seeing a big country like Turkey, but not so great for consistent running.

In spite of the challenges, I am able to get some miles in here and there. None of my runs set any distance or speed records. But when I do get out, it feels good to do so. And it's always interesting and fun, sometimes even exciting, to run in a new place.

Here are some of the highlights, sights and sounds along the way.

Just a mile and a half in Cannakale. Although this is hardly even a warm-up, I do manage to get myself chased by dogs on more than one occasion.

A couple one-hour runs in Kusadasi. It's nice to be able to stay two nights, and to actually run twice in a place. The second of these is with Ian, a fellow traveler from Christchurch, New Zealand. Ian will be running the Istanbul Marathon the day after our trip concludes there. I wish I'd have known about that.

During several of my runs I happen to be out during the early morning call to prayer. This reminds me, in case I'd forgotten, that I'm not in Kansas any more.

I'm always surprised that more people aren't about at 6:00 AM-ish in the morning. When I run at home at this time, it seems to be about the busiest time of the day. Here in Turkey, the streets are deserted, and no one else is even walking about. This is generally a good thing, but the dogs I awaken are a different story. They seem to want to bark, chase and otherwise terrorize a passing

I do run in an ancient Greek/Roman stadium in Aphrodisias. It's actually pretty long, similar to the one in Olympia, Greece. Like that one (that I also ran in), it's probably the length of one stadia, or 191 meters. Too bad I forgot to turn on my Garmin. I therefore can not take credit for running this particular quarter mile.

Although I didn't run at all in Pamukkale or Konya (bad pollution there), I do get out for three runs in Cappadocia. One is a short run in the morning by myself, one is with Ian, and the third is with Ian and Robert, an Australian who sets a good pace from the start. I am having a tough time keeping up, but I later realize that we were going up an incline the whole way. As Ian begins to fall a little behind, I - from my middle position - call to Robert: "Better ease up on the pace; the old guy can't
keep up." I then add, tongue firmly in cheek, "It's not me, mind you. I'm fine. I'm just concerned about Ian." In truth, I am thrilled to slow down a little. And then it becomes much easier to come back down anyway.

Ian and I get out for an early morning run in Ankara, Turkey's busy capital. We try to run by the football stadium, but a guard with an uzi tells us we need to leave the vicinity. We do not argue and we do what he says. Then we try to get into nearby Luna Park, and a guard tells us no. We run around to the other side of the park, where a different guard makes a phone call and then lets us in. We run inside the park for a while, until some loose dogs chase us out. It probably wasn't meant to be. But it was good enough; any run is better than no run, and this one was at least interesting.

Out alone in the early morning darkness in Bursa, I marvel at the level of activity at this hour of the morning. It's still not a lot compared to home, but it's way more than the other areas I've haunted. The pollution is awful here. I eventually find the park that Rob told me about, but since I'm out of time, I have to head back.

And that's pretty much it. I don't get out in busy Istanbul, although I do pine a bit for the marathon that I just miss there. But all in all, it was fun to run in this exotic country.

Click here to see my travel blog post about our travels in Turkey.

Friends who run the Hinckley Hill known as Effie will appreciate the predominant Turkey beer

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