While the recent Easter weekend was on the minds of most, MONTANE® ultra runner Marcus Scotney was powering towards victory and a new course record at the Iznik Ultra in Turkey. As well as competing in ultra distance races such as the MONTANE® Lakeland 50 and the Iznik Ultra, Marcus has an impressive track record of finishing on the podium and is fast becoming a name to be reckoned with in endurance races.  Marcus has been selected on numerous occasions to run for England and Great Britain and regularly gives talks on his racing experiences to inspire and motivate.

The Iznik Ultra series is in its 3rd year and offers several race distances.  Marcus participated in the longest distance – 130km clockwise around Lake Iznik: “I was asked to compete in the 130km in the Iznik Ultra weekend.  I had to switch training for the London Marathon to training for 130km off road with 2,400+ metres of ascent.  Training had been going perfectly and felt at my fittest and was well prepared for demanding course.”  Taking in total altitude gains and descents of 2,250m, the 130km course is a highlight of the Turkish racing season, being the single longest stage race in the country.

The 130km race started at midnight on 19 April from Iznik Square, with competitors tackling the harder 1st 60km of the circuit in darkness: “The weather for the start was cool and perfect running conditions.  I did my usual cautious start as the first few kilometres were flat out of the town.  The race soon began to climb on to the first 2,000m of ascent which came in the first 80km of race.”  

A breakaway leader pack quickly formed, with Marcus in its midst: “Very soon myself and one of the local runners (Akin Yeniçeli) were at the front of the race with Akin pulling away on the climb.  At 11km I caught him up and we ran together.”  The pair had opened a convincing lead on John Bayne of New Zealand by the 11km mark.  However, as Talk Ultra’s Ian Corless reports: “At check point 1 (CP1), Bayne arrived first closely followed by runner after runner.  Something was wrong and it soon became clear that our front two runners had gone off course.”  Marcus elaborates: “Unfortunately we managed to miss one of the way markers, causing us to take a 6km detour.  The language barrier definitely didn’t help discussions on our route choice!  After being picked up and returned to the course by the race organisers, I’d lost half an hour on the leader as I went through the first checkpoint.  At this point I felt the race and training had been wasted.  Instead of throwing the towel in I decided to use the runners in front of me as a means to advancing up the field.”

Over 30 minutes behind the leaders, Marcus would have to dig deep to put himself back in the running.  And that he certainly did.  Positioned towards the back of the pack at CP1 (36th place), by the time he reached CP2 at the 28km mark, Marcus had pushed incredibly hard to land himself back in contention in 6th place.  “What followed was a master class in pacing and distance running, one-by-one, Scotney moved his way up the field using each runner ahead as a carrot.  Closing the gap to 26-mins, 22-mins, and 16-mins and by the time he arrived at the 60-km mark Marcus was 4th with 6-mins to catch up”, commented Ian Corless.

Mahmut Yavuz, 2013’s winner, fronted the race at CP6, (63km), but Marcus was hot on his heels with 6 minutes separating the two.  “I eventually took the lead just before the 75km checkpoint.  The next 55km proved to be very difficult and hard due to running into the morning sun and rising temperatures.  As the route followed tracks through olive groves it was muddy due to the rain the previous day, making the going very soft and slippy, with mud sticking to the trail shoes.”  

Whereas other competitors who had led at the start began to fade, Marcus seemed to keep coming, extending his lead on Mahmut throughout the remainder of the race.  “The penultimate 17km leg was the toughest part for me as the sun glared down causing dehydration; adding to the difficulties posed by the underfoot conditions.  As I got to the final checkpoint and refuelled, with renewed strength, I pushed the final 10km out in 48 minutes, arriving at the finish line in a new course record of 12.53:59 to a raucous reception and 18 minutes faster than second place Mahmut, the previous course record holder.”

Click here for race results
Click here to read more about Marcus Scotney
Click here for further Iznik Ultra race images

Photography courtesy of Ian Corless, Talk Ultra.