Istanbul marks winter solstice with night marathon


ISTANBUL, Dec. 22 — Around 200 athletes held a night marathon and a biking race in a forest near Istanbul to mark the longest night of the year from Saturday night to Sunday morning.
The competition was carried out in two branches, running and biking with different distances. For the marathon athletes competed in three distances 60km, 30km and 15km. For the biking there were 60km and 40km.
The longest distance 60km took almost 12 hours for the athletes to finish the race.
Mehmet Yavuz became the first and finished 60km with a score of 6 hours 11 minutes. On the other hand Bakiye Duran the female athlete completed the race in 8 hours 32 minutes.
“We are having a night time marathon in Turkey for the first time,” said race coordinator Taner Damci to Xinhua before the race took the start.
One of the main challenges of the race was the cold weather and the night conditions. “Especially the darkness of the forest would compel the athletes the most. Many of them lost their way,” Tolga Gozum, organizer of the race, told Xinhua.
In the nature sports extreme weather conditions are the most important factor that need endurance, said Damci adding that their aim is to prepare marathon runners to extreme conditions.
“We are used to run ultra marathons. But tonight is the longest night. The cold may affect us. On the other hand we heard that the racecourse has been covered with mud. The hills could force us,” said the 46-year-old Musa Erdem, one of the 60km competitors.
One of the two female athletes who competed in the 60km, Mine Kilic told Xinhua that her aim is to finish the race. “I have anemia, the hills compel me but I trained hard and I want to finish the race.”
Uzun Etap (Long Lap) and Set Adventures Company organized the race under the slogan of “the longest night, run or bike” in Tasdelen forest in Istanbul’s district of Cekmekoy.[db:内容2]