This to date is one of the hardest things I have attempted. Unfortunately 3 days earlier I was involved in a motor vehicle accident on a scooter. I suffered some mild concussion after smashing my face on the ground only wearing the standard given open face helmet (lesson learned here), bruising and grazing on my shoulder and arm and a sore neck and shoulders and left ankle due to the impact of hitting my head on the ground and sliding. I was fortunate enough to be a very experienced rider and kept the scooter up for a good 5 to 10s before it finally went down allowing time to decelerate and avoid serious injury. The event was exciting I was looking forward to racing and doing my best on a new trail in a fantastic place. From the start things started to appear off, there were no signs for the festival area where I was to pick up my race pack, the instructions weren't clear so I was missing things needed and I wasn't able to collect my pack on the first attempt. I finally got it at 855pm the night before the race after working out exactly what was needed. The brief was done in a nearby hotel but again no instructions on where this was, I had to guess, followed a person that appeared to be another runner and found the briefing at the back of a beach front hotel. Briefing was ok, but the translation was not so good. I missed a few things but spoke to some other runners and was comfortable enough I knew enough to do the race. The morning of the race was amazing, perfect weather after a scare that medicane zorba was going to force the race to cancel. But it made a last minute turn back towards Greece, saving the event. The start line was pumping, red bull playing music lots of people all having fun, drones flying around and again another screw up, apparently I needed a tracking device, but there was no translation and luckily a Turkish runner informed me to go grab it from the officials. This had not been mentioned before at all. The race started but 20 minutes late. I started off strong, running with the guys that eventually won the smaller distances, it was good, challenging and steep. We climbed straight up the mountain and ran back down it. The trail was very technical which I would have other-wised loved, but my head was pounding from my concussion so I chose to slow it down a notch. The first half of the race was amazing, I was leapfrogging with the runner that eventually won, we were talking as much as we could with the language barrier and the views were stunning, absolutely beautiful out to the Mediterranean and bottom of the cliffs. The trail was what I describe as barbaric and brutal. Large rocks, sharp and not anything like I have ran on before, but this was ok, just required a bit of adjustment, stopped to tape up a few hot spots on my feet to avoid blisters and kept going. The trail taking longer than expected due to slower pace, but it was still within my plan, at the very slow end. I reached the 68km CP where our drop bags were meant to be and they were not there, surprise. I was told they would be there on the way back as it was an out and back course. So I took off and kept going, feeling tired, sore, but good, my body was doing ok, minus the headache and a bit of nausea, im assuming was the effects of the concussion I was running with. I had a good lead on 3rd and about 2hrs on 4th place. I got back to the CP where the drop bags were meant to be and again they had not arrived yet, it was a bit of a bummer, as I had planned to fill up all my electrolytes and refuel the first time around, I didn't think it would be wise to skip a second time and go the entire 130k withiut the proper nutrition, so I opted to wait. Fortunately for me the wait was less than 10 minutes, but nevertheless it was still frustrating and very disappointing. I filled up my tailwind, my smaller bottles with hammer fizz, grabbed 2 cans of coke, a handful of nut bars, changed my socks, checked my feet and was ready to go again. The stop was about 25-30mins which I was not happy about, but thats life right? If you have to wait, you adapt and overcome. On the way in the Check points were about every 8 to 12k, as planned by the organisers, but the available nutrition at these points was pretty much non existent, they consisted of a couple cans of soft drink (for everyone to share), only BLUE powerade and some biscuit type things, and lots of water. I probably should have found out more about what would be there. It was wrong assuming it would be like all the other races I have completed. The way back turned out worse, mostly just water at the CP's, occasionally some biscuits, nothing else. I left the drop bag checkpoint at about 9.5hts into the race, I was in 2nd place comfortably and 75kms in, about 50kms to go, it was about 530pm, just starting to get dark. This is when the race turned to shit – for EVERYONE The race every previous year was staged, so it was only ran in the day and in 1 direction only. Now it was getting dark and being run in the other direction, Im sure the organisers hadn't even ran the course at night, it was absolutely disgusting and I have never been so disappointed in an event in my life. I signed up to a trail event, not an adventure race. The course was marked by red and white stripes of paint on rocks and trees, mostly visible during the day but at night with so many ways you could go, many different goat tracks, and the track not very clear, you could not see the track at all. To put it nicely it was shit, and I got lost about 6 times. The last straw for me was when I had to climb a 10m cliff to see and work out where I was then go back down, I went another 2k only to get lost again, it was now 330am I was 102kms in and had about 23kms to go. So far the last 25-30k had taken me 8hrs, and I wasnt the only one getting lost. During this time the guy behind me slowly got to me and I had to call him back onto trail 2 times in less than 500m and he was a local. Not from another country. I got to one point walked around in circles for 35mins looked at my watch, my map and my GPS, then found a road that went to the next CP, I walked to the road and went to the CP and withdrew myself, I was in 3rd place at that stage, 20hrs in with less than 25kms to go. To say I was disappointed is a massive understatement. I got in a car and had a sleep for an hr then went back to the start area. At 6am the 1st runner came in, I cheered him on, spoke to him and he said he wouldn't do it again, he got lost too many times, he had teamed up with the guy that came in 5 minutes after him that was doing the 180k (we were doing the 130k) and they had walked through the night together to help each other stay on track. I waited about 45 minutes no other runners had come in, so I went back to my hotel to sleep. I later found out only 3 people had finished the 130k and 2 the 180k, thats a massive massive drop out rate. A lot of these people had done the staged event, but with the course not being marked for the night run, they had withdrawn from the race.
Whats done is done, I am happy I gave it a go, I hope the organisers take some of the feedback to improve the next one. I am frustrated I spent time and money to come here specifically for this race, there were plenty more I could have done instead with better organisation. Would I do this race again, probably not, would I recommend it, I would if they could tell me with certainty the course would be marked next time. The course was extremely challenging, steep, technical and awesome awesome views and nature, if you have done the UTA is the blue mountains, this was about twice as challenging and difficult. Very similar in distance and elevation gain, but this one was just that much harder on your body. My review might seem very negative, but its just my experience, with taking into consideration those couple runners I spoke to about their experience also. We were all good runners with experience and have ran many races. With a lot more organisation this trail run would be awesome. The volunteers, medical people and staff were great. They just need to sit down and work through a better plan