We just love to run thru on this beautiful part of the planet. Cappadocia. It offers so much more than one can really imagine!
Not counting number of touristic tours we made earlier pre-run period of our lives, Cappadocia Ultra Trail is our fourth time running in the same organisation, in the years with only variation of the organisation growing bigger and better. Every time we run, Cappadocia offers us a few bunch of surprises. Doesn`t matter which distance you run, a suprise is always there for you. Cappadocia trails are like the secret jewel of the old world. Maybe it`s too much to absorb for once, she asks us to bite at a time. Perhaps all these bundle make Cappadocia experience more appealing than any other race in Turkey. Not only the organisation is at it`s best but the landscape offers just too much.
Last year, elites /ITRA favorites were all very top athletes, familiar names to anyone who even knew a little bit of trail running. They were all kings and queens, one could start a bet of which would win in Cappadocia.
But this year, when the list of runners were announced, one name that was a complete surprise to us was Manuela. Who was she? Never in the world have heard her name. No wonder, she was an Olympic athlete, yet this was her first ever trail running competition!
What a story to start with!
Salomon Cappadocia Ultra-Trail is one of the least technical trails out of UTWT races, but has other challenges on it’s own! We said she has a good chance! If all goes well (we all know when this is trail anything can happen), she could be the new queen.
Breaking a course record by half an hour! (06:11:26)
She now embarks at a new territory. As the new queen of the CMT. She is so cool, so modest, so angel, so athlete, so human, … such a sweet heart. Mark our words, please watch out for Manuela! We will hear so much of her also in the trail world.
Welcome Manuela! Thank you for bringing some color into our dusted trails! Good luck on your journey ahead, we look forward seeing you in our one and only Cappadocia again.
Let’s now read her side of the story.
63KM IN THE LAND OF THE BEAUTIFUL HORSES
by Manuela Soccol Oly
Doha was just over and I already had another goal in my mind. Three weeks after the marathon, I would take my first step in ultra-trail running with a 63 km in Cappadocia, Turkey. We (I, Frank and Coach Tim) had thought about this choice well and the picture could be perfect. The first week after the marathon I took complete rest, for allowing my body to fully recover from the strenuous exercise. After this came a week in which I carried out short loose runs and rolled a few 1000s on the slopes that felt amazingly good. The last week before my ultra marathon, I only did a few short leisure runs and I could enjoy the carbo-loading again.
On Wednesday evening Frank, Roberto and I drove to Dusseldorf to take the plane to Turkey. Back from the colder Belgium to the wonderfully sun-drenched Cappadocia. Sure you are wondering what Cappadocia has to offer and let me say that this piece of Unesco World Heritage has not disappointed me at all. Cappadocia is literally translated as the land of the beautiful horses but it is known for its beautiful rocks that originated from lava rock. In the past, these rocks were transformed into houses, churches, shelters, etc. and you can still view them today. We were allowed to enjoy a round tour through this beautiful landscape with guide Celem. The group consisted of a few runners from South Africa, a Canadian couple, an American and a newly married Turkish couple. The group quickly formed a cheerful and cohesive atmosphere and we fully enjoyed it. In addition to the beautiful attractions, we also visited a traditional pottery and tapestry weaving mill where they proudly brought forth their age-old family traditions. Sure we got a percent on our purchases and of course I bought something because if there is something I have a weakness for then they are handmade souvenirs. After many visits and photos (certainly instagram-worthy) later we drove to our hotel and enjoyed a delicious buffet. Two more nights of sleep and the tension started to rise quietly. Friday was a day of much rest, good food and in the evening I had to check my backpack with mandatory items.
The alarm went off around 4 o’clock in the morning and after a good breakfast we got ready to go to the center. Frank had rented a car so he could visit every checkpoint and supply both of us with his own drink. He dropped us off at the race start point and then we could already sniff the relaxed atmosphere at the start. If I say relaxed then I mean this too, in ultra and train running everyone is like a family, it doesn’t matter really what time you run and respecting and enjoying the environment is paramount! Everyone has respect for each other and that was very noticeable for me (what a relief). Roberto (Ena) and I warmed up briefly and took a seat in our start box. I was slightly tense at the start, not knowing what would come but that tension was completely wiped away when Stijn Van Lokeren came by me. A pleasant chat ensured that the minutes that normally lasted so long flew by and the starting shot popped quickly. Stijn and I ran upwards quietly. I was easily chatting with him and really enjoyed all the runners around me. A few selfies (which Stijn shot) later we were allowed to visit the rougher terrain. Stijn stayed with me and ran easily up and down the rocks. I watched him as a guru on the trails at the time. I did not want him to withhold me, I said he could go but he assured me it is also better for him not to go too fast in the beginning so his 119km could end well. The first CP at 11km came quickly and Frank was ready with my two new drinking bottles, stopping briefly, taking empty bottles and putting the full ones in my backpack. It went smoothly and I could quickly continue my way with Stijn.
After this, the route became more technical for me, a lot of rocks, short climbs and fast descents made it a bit more difficult. Stijn noticed this, we agreed that if we were on stage we would treat each other and say good bye with a fist bump. Now it became a journey where I would get to know myself well, a trial and error (literally and figuratively).
At next CP’s at 27 km and 35 km, I felt good and Frank had a huge importance on this. Route became more difficult, terrain became rougher but I still felt fresh. I still remember very well that my watch showed 42km and I thought this was really going well. Okay, I had missed out on a some parts and I fell down a few times but the legs did their thing and mentally I saw everything. I saw Frank the last time at CP on 48km, he told me a tough climb was coming and that I had to feel well but also saying he was proud of me. A short kiss and I continued my adventure. Oh man! the first part was so easy! I cursed the mountain I had to climb, the stones were loose and the descent crept into my quadriceps. Sometime before the last CP at 54 km, I ran on a flat piece but I still really wanted to look at the stones up close. I made a perfect face plant that resulted in grazes and bruises. The whining was near but I had to and would continue,
I was hoping for another smooth 10km and then I could enjoy all the Turkish goodies afterwards. But it was vain hope, the fatigue began and the muscles struggled. The ascent was too heavy so I ran, the descent gave heavy blows but I obediently and the flat that was there I ran slowly forward. Frank surprised me by popping up in the last 5 km and I still had all the courage to continue, I would have preferred to just hug him but I kept biting. Finally the center came into view and I heard the speaker, never did a finish hurt so much as now. I reached the finish with tears in my eyes, not with emotion but with the pain in my legs. My first ultra track was a success because I was able to finish it with a 1st place and a new course record with the ladies. I have learned a lot but I also know that I can still learn a lot in the future.
Short note: Roberto did a great job and even became 3rd master 40+! How chic is this? But then a super performance from Stijn followed, after a lap of 63km he walked on to finish his 119km and he was pretty second. I have a lot of admiration and respect for this man and I am really looking forward to teasing him with a “training” here.
About Manuela Soccol, with her own words: I’ve started running at an age of 16 and liked the 5km and 10km distances the most. I was not the best runner but I enjoyed it a lot and kept going on to follow my dreams. I got injured at my feet (fascia plantaris) and needed surgery, I almost stopped running but I noticed that I loved it too much. After this hard period, I ran my first marathon in 2015 and qualified for the Olympics in Rio the Janeiro with a PB 02:37m:09. In August 2018, I broke a little bone in my foot and again had surgery but motivated myself to come back stronger. I trained a lot with swimming and biking and surprisingly qualified for the World Championships in Doha this year! 3 weeks later, I ran my first Ultra-Trail and had the pleasure to do this with a great organisation at Cappadocia. I finished as first lady with a new course record on the 63km long CMT track. I still need to learn a lot but looking forward to the future. Manuela Soccol
CUT (119K, +3730m)
Savaş 17:06:07 (Rank 55/362, By Cat. 11/116)
Selman 23:19:48 (Rank 254/362, By Cat. 113/153)
CMT (63K, +2030m)
Bike 10:06:37 (Rank 381/660, Rank F. 72/167, By Cat. 18/49)
Cem Arıtürk 09:15:15 (Rank 250/660, By Cat. 74/191)
Ersavaş 07:39:15 (Rank 64/660, By Cat. 16/191)