Trail Running in Turkey

[by Emre Tok of Istanbul, Turkey. Emre works in Microsoft and has a travel and trail running blog]

Turkey is a country with 7 different regions where you can taste summer, fall, and hot, freezing cold, heavy rains in a huge natural ecosystem. The seven regions include the Marmara, Aegean, Middle Anatolia, Eastern Anatolia, South Eastern Anatolia, and Mediterranean regions as well as the magnificent Black Sea Region.

Istanbul trail running

A view of the sea from Istanbul.

Starting from the Marmara region, Istanbul, the most populous city in Europe, has small forests and areas for 15 million residents. Recently, people began trail running to explore the paths and forest areas on the Black Sea side of Istanbul. These areas include Riva, Belgrado Forest, Ağva, Şile and Aydos. Belgrado forest is the place where most people trail run. People train for the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, a marathon, or an Ironman on this forest’s trails. It’s a hidden heaven for trail runners in an enormous city.

Belgrado Forest trail running

Trail running in the Belgrado Forest.

When not trail running, Istanbul’s resident run close to Bosphorous on a 30 kilometer path along the sea in the city’s Europe portion. In the city’s Anatolian portion, Istanbul has a 40 km long path near the sea by the Prince Islands.

In addition, the Marmara region has a few running clubs. Adım Adım is a charitable organization with almost 1000 members nationwide. Every month they organize a free 6 km trail running event. Adım Adım members collected more than $700,000 for charity events since 2005.

Macera Akademisi is another organization that organizes trail running, adventure racing and orienteering events. In November, there is an epic Cookie Adventure Race with short, advanced, and ultra courses that last for 12 hours per day. New Moon is a night adventure race consists of at least 30 km of running and 50 km of mountain biking, as well as kayaking, orienteering, and other disciplines.

In January and March, there are the fun Deers on Trail pure trail running races. There races are 4 km and 14 km.

The Aegean and Mediterranean regions are generally hot areas with intense sun. The regions include coastal and mountainous areas. You can taste all kinds of outdoor sports here. You can do especially diving, kayaking, coastal walking, and running, as well. It’s here that the famous OGER Antalya Maraton is run every year. Dragoman Outdoors handles many types of courses for every kind of sport. There can provide  long distance hiking guides, too. Turkey’s first ultramarathon, the Lycian Way Ultra Marathon, is run between Fethiye and Kaş in this region in September. It’s 250 km on the ancient Lycian Road.

On the Lycian Road, you run on an ancient path as you can also do on the nearby  St.Paul’s path. Both paths run more than 500 kms. Along these paths, you see magnificent views and mountains. You can stay in villages with bed and breakfast or camp easily.

Lycian Road

The Lycian Road.

The Black Sea Region has beautiful mountains that lie adjacent to the Black Sea. Perfect trails, rain, fresh nature, and fewer people make these trails an enjoyable secret. Skiing and rafting are the most popular sports in north Black Sea Region. Trail running is not popular, but will in few years time.

Turkish coast

The Black Sea coast

The East Anatolian regions are very mountainous to the east, but the Middle Anatolian region is less so. The weather is very hot in South, but cold in Middle and north East Anatolia. The epic DASK ADAM; Anatolian Mountain Marathon, which is  since 11 years old, provides 2 points for the UTMB races. The race is handled in Anatolia close to Marmara region in the cold mountain city of Bolu. The race is a two-day multi-stage race with more than 3,500 meters of ascent. The ultra long edition of the race runs more than 90 km.

Turkish mountains

Turkish mountains

Turkish Runners
There aren’t any widely known Turkish trail runners. Several, such as myself as well as Serkan and Sertan Girgin, run major European races such as the UTMB races and the Swiss Alpine Marathon. Others, such as top women ultramarathoner Bakiye Duran (Team Touareg Turk team) prefer adventure racing.

Anyone who has run in Turkey, either as a local or as a visitor, please share your thoughts on trail running there.

Likewise, if you’re considering taking a trip to Turkey that involves trail running, ask away. Hopefully, Emre Tok will be able to answer your questions.

Emre Tok trail running

Emre Tok trail running

There are 3 comments

  1. Ben

    Merhaba, Emre! Cok tesekuler!

    I am soon moving to the south eastern portion of your country. Do you know of any trail running/ultra running going on there?

    1. EMRE TOK

      Hi Ben; That area has a lot of beatiful cities and mountains. Mt Nemrut is the top recommendation for sight seeing especially the sun rise. There are not much ultra running going there but you can do trails in Mardin, Hasankeyf, Kayseri… Please send me a mail about the exact place you are going ? cheers Emre

  2. Trail running shoes

    Turkey is an awesome for the tourists. The picture you have supplied is very cool. You were actually trail jumping there :) (is that you in the picture?). I think Turkey is the only country that is in 2 continents right? Nice to hear that you guys are having a lot of trail running events. Thanks!

    1. EMRE TOK

      Hi Ameer; yes i am jumping from a hill where the photographer took the shot for a newspaper. Istanbul is the only city where two continents meet and met by two bridges where they are in top 10 in terms of length world wide. There will be an Istanbul Ultra Race … will Post it here or you can follow my blog; for product reviews and Ultra running where i have started to convert it to bilingual both english and turkish… cheers Emre

  3. Joe Kleffner

    Wow! I'm headed to turkey for two weeks at the end of April. Thanks for sharing! One week in Istanbul and a week near Kalkan. Planning on getting some runs in and definitely can't wait to explore some of your suggestions…particularly the Lycian way. I'll let you know how it turns out. What are conditions like this time of year?



    1. EMRE TOK

      Hi Joe; Definately you have to find Mr. Gokhan in Kaş; 40 km east of Kalkan and ask him questions about giving you a route for the part of the Lycian way to run and explore. Say that you got his name from me Emre; you have to swim in KAPUTAS beach between Kalkan and Kaş. also test a long beach run in PATARA. Bring your sand gaiters if you have. The weather is perfect. you will have a not cold but a perfect weather. It may rain but will not last. Higher parts can be windy. Do sea kayaking in Kaş as well where you can explore the sunk ancient cities. any questions are more than welcome ! Thanks… cheers Emre

  4. Rachel Sharwell

    Hi there!

    I will be there starting April 10th for about a week, staying in Istanbul. I am an avid trail runner and would like to know about safe places to run. I've heard some things about Turkey not being safe for women. Is this true? Advice please? I love to run on trails but pathways are fine too.

    Any advice is appreciated,


  5. Trail running shoes

    Thanks! No need to share your email bro. Because spammers will start to send you spams. I would recommend you to remove it as soon as you can. You could have simply emailed me your email address.

  6. Joe Kleffner

    Just got back fromy trip to Turkey. Incredible! Although I didn't have time to set up any running adventures, I had a great time exploring the places I stayed through running. The Southern coast, in particular, was truly inspiring.

    Check out some pics at mt blog–

  7. Darryl

    I'll be in Antalya on the 18th-20th of July and am looking to do some trail running. I am staying in the historic area downtown. What is my best option for getting out and hitting the dirt for 25-30km? Any info would be extremely helpful.

  8. Dan Berger

    Thanks for the great article. I'm currently in Turkey through early September and am interested in any recommendations for road or trail races while I'm here. Thanks for the advice!

  9. cenap

    Emre, fantastic work,well done, thanks for all the info.

    Am Cenap from New Zealand, I will recommend your website in our running club here in NZ,YMCA .

    All the best, keep running. Cenap

  10. Ennio

    Good evening,

    my name is Ennio, I came from Italy and I will work in Turkye for 3 year. I'm a trail running man. Can you indicate me if near Ankara there are place where I can run? Thank you.


  11. Mark Zwart

    I just game back from a 2 weeks all inclusive holliday in Ismelere.

    On openstreetlayer I found many trails. To find them in realtime was more difficult.

    The one from Ismelere to Turunce was the first and most beautifull one I found.

    Very Technical but not that long.. So at least you dont need to carry water with ye.

    Turkye has really surprised me in a positive way.

    Mark Zwart, Nederland.

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