For many endurance athletes and adventure travelers, the summer of 2020 is a challenge that can be easily overcome with friends, views, and runs. Get out there and have an adventure.

Me and Vincent at the beginning of a ten hour hot run in Lake Bafa, Turkey.
Me and Vincent at the beginning of a ten hour hot run in Lake Bafa, Turkey.
Photo by gezi-and-d on Instagram.

A few years ago I won and set the course records on a few ultramarathons in Turkey and became known as a runner. It was fun, and it was why I took a year off from my profession as a teacher to focus on running and racing. As the clock struck midnight and 2020 became a reality, I was overcoming a running injury, training the best I could, and gearing up for a full ultramarathon season, entry fees paid in full.

Then 2020 became 2020, and I put my dream year of running ultramarathons on the back burner.  Being adaptable to change, a skill-set developed running ultramarathons ironically, I continued running and just have fun so when my friend Vincent asked if I wanted to run a self-guided ultramarathon or more on the Carian Trail up and around Lake Bafa, Turkey, my answer was immediate and resolute, “Heck yeah and when?”

The Start of Our Ultramarathon in Turkey

Lake Bafa, Turkey is a large freshwater lake in the mountains in the Mugla region an hour drive from the sea.  I know it for its rich history, interesting rock formations and the 850km Carian Trail.

Vincent stayed two nights in a pansiyon or small hotel, before our ultramarathon, and I roughed it under the stars.  We agreed on a 5am start time for our self-guided ultramarathon and at 5 we were ready to run and at 5:15 it was clear that the day would be scalding hot to run so we would have to be careful about water during our ultramarathon in Turkey.

We got into a groove running in the first section climbing out of the lake and were joined by a Lake Bafa, Turkey local, a feral labrador, who stayed by our sides for most of the run.  The first part of the run was running through what they know Lake Bafa for, amazing rock formations that seem alien to this planet. It was beautiful, and we finished the first ascent as the sun rose in Turkey.

Our faithful feral friend on our Lake Bafa self-guided ultramarathon.
Our faithful feral friend on our Lake Bafa self-guided ultramarathon in Turkey.
Photo by gezi-and-d on Instagram.

Then we descended and ran into our first herd of feral donkeys in Turkey, about ten of them.  They looked at us as we ran by and we looked at them as they stared at us in what seemed like bewilderment and confusion.

By this time it was hot. 100 degrees hot but we were okay with only 8km to the first village.  For me, it was the best 8km of the run in Turkey.  We ran through a dark pine forest that gave us some respite from the heat and then descended a fast section of the trail where we got to see our first herd of mountain goats. Such a fun run.

Finding Our Own Path in Turkey

We arrived in the village to find no amenities, including no water for the rest of the run.  A local family saved us from a grueling rest of the day by offering us as much cold water as we wanted.  It was so refreshing and got me excited for the rest of the run in Turkey

Then we hit a hot and exposed trail section that would have been perfect if it had not been blazing in Turkey.  We saw feral horses here, so that made up for the heat somewhat.

Just like any adventure, there may be one or two wrong turns.  We took them all in one go, finding ourselves lost, cranky and hot.  We forwent part of the trail and ran on the road for a few km until the next village in Turkey.

By then we were at 7+ hours of running and at the point of questioning our sanity.  An ice cream and a sandwich rejuvenated us, and we ascended up the last climb of the day.  This is when Vincent’s superior fitness for the run kicked in. He was ready to charge home, and I was ready to nap.

We ran on for another few km to the last peak. It rewarded us with a view of Lake Bafa from above. It is really a grand place and worth a visit for the day on a coastal visit to Turkey and its famous beaches.

We descended to the last village in Turkey and the road which would lead us to the start point of our run.  As we turned on the road, having already run 42km in 10 hours, a Turkish man with his smiling son offered us a ride. We gladly accepted, grateful to not have to run another 8km in the heat. Turkish hospitality can’t be beat, especially after a long hot run up and around Lake Bafa, Turkey.

Are you into running? Would you consider an ultramarathon in Turkey? Let us know in the comments down below.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our Travel Aroono newsletter so you don’t miss out on travel ideas and tips to make the best out of your adventures in Turkey!