BT Partner Ufuk Güven is back in the news. On August 13, 2011, Ufuk, on a team with three of his friends, ran 32 km in the Aladağar Mountains, the tallest part of the Taurus Mountain Range. The run took the team 10 and one-half hours to complete and included a 2000m ascent and a 2300m descent. Not only was this run a first time accomplishment at this height and over this route but, all the members of this team are 50 years of age and older – both are firsts for Turkey!
The team members are Cihan Çetinel 50, Ufuk Güven 51, Haldun Aydıngün 53, and Vedat Vural 51. They started their run at Çukurbağ village which is in the Niğde region near Çamardı and located at an elevation of 1400m. They ran through Karayalak Vadisi and Yedigöller Platosu which is at an elevation of 3100m, and soon after reached their maximum altitude of 3400m above sea level! On their descent they ended their run at Ulupınar Barazama köyü, an elevation of 1100m.
The team started at 02:00 on August 13 to avoid running the lower levels in the heat of the day and to take advantage of the full moon light. Their aim was to reach 3400m by the time the sun was high and hot.
Ufuk told us they did this marathon run for a variety of reasons. One of them was nostalgia; these team members have been friends for over 30 years. They first met at the mountaineering club of their university. During school holidays they would go together to this same place and walk the route over a period of four or five days camping along the way. Since then they have been active in extreme sport activities. Their first challenge was to do the route in a matter of hours, not days.
View Aladağlar Park Run in a larger map
The other reason they decided to attempt this run was because several others told them it could not be done because of the altitudes involved, the temperature differences, the difficult path encountered along the way and their age; hence the other challenge!
Only Vedat Vural and Ufuk Güven are involved professionally in adventure activities. Haldun Aydıngün is a wool exporter and a sci-fi writer who writes about mountaineering and Cihan Çetinel owns Alfa Graphics in Etiler, Istanbul. Regardless of their different paths in life, the team members have all stayed in good physical condition, have continued to be close friends over these past 30 years, and continued to camp and mountaineer together.
The team knew that such a run could be dangerous for anyone less experienced and prepared, but because of the many years of experience among them and that they know each other well, they felt they were safely up to the challenge of this course. They do NOT recommend this run over this route unless you are very experienced with mountaineering, have experience with this particular route, and are in excellent physical condition.
It was important that their equipment was appropriate. For example Ufuk used a Quechua backpack for its very light weight and started training with a new pair of Saloman shoes designed for hill running. These shoes provide more foot and ankle support than a normal road running shoe. He trained for several months before the run. For example, he would run up the hill behind Kaş to the Çukurbağ village area and back several days a week and on days in-between he would swim several kilometres.
The friends decided from the first that this would be a team effort all the way and they would stay together the entire distance. They carefully planned the route and the timing and gathered the equipment and supplies they would need. They had walkie talkies and carried small GPS locators so they could be followed along the route by their backup person. There were a number of volunteers who helped out, the team notified the office of the Chief of the local Jandarma and the emergency first responders in case of an accident. All officials gave their consent.
Some items they carried with them included sesame bars, magnesium tablets to ward off muscle cramps or spasms and other energy food in addition to a small amount of water and an electrolyte solution for energy called Powerade. Coca Cola provided the Powerade as a sponsor. Along the way they stashed extra water and Powerade.
Cihan Çetinel carried ski poles because of a knee injury he sustained a few months previously but he had no special difficulty. The team had no injuries on the run because of their careful planning and preparation. A couple of days prior to the event, the weather took a turn for the worse and they were concerned because of the route and the altitude; an extreme storm could be dangerous! Fortunately the weather cleared the morning they started and it turned out clear and bright with the full moon to light their way! The lowest temperature they experienced was between -1 and -2 C, with day temperatures up to 25C!
Ufuk notes that in recent years they have seen no nomads with their goats along the route. In their university days they would always encounter these people and their animals. He speculates that because this is now a national park area, they are no longer allowed to graze their flocks. They did see several back packing campers along the way as mountain tourism has become quite common in Turkey as a result of the pioneering efforts of Ufuk and Vedat in Turkey. When Ufuk and his friends were university students, no one was doing mountaineering except for small university clubs, now there are many adventurers experiencing the Turkish outdoors.
Ufuk hopes this team effort will be an inspiration for others, especially a younger generation. He encourages youngsters and those older to take up such a challenge, engage the outdoors, challenge their limits and broaden their experiences.
Ufuk Güven has blazed many trails and experienced many firsts in outdoor adventure activities. All of us are the beneficiaries of his experiences. Please contact him through Bougainville Travel or Adventure Forest if you were inspired by his story. Thank you Ufuk…
One of the team mates, Haldun Aydıngün, made a Facebook photo album called Sıfırıncı-Aladağlar-Dağ-Maratonu-2011.
You can also view their Slideshow Presentation.