Istanbul 5 Days by Fiona Forrest

4th – 8th November 2009

Participation in the Istanbul 5 Days was a good excuse to visit the city. It has always had an air of mystique so it was somewhat surprising to find a modern vibrant and clean city with a very efficient transportation system. The city is divided into Europe and Asia by the Bosphorous River and has a majestic setting.

The events on two of the days were held north of Istanbul in Belgrad Forest (Europe). Two other days were held in Asia, one of which was held on an island located in the Marmara Sea. The final day of competition was a sprint event in the Grand Bazaar.

Generally the terrain consisted of very thick thorny undergrowth with steep sided valleys, and a confusing path network. Runnability at times was very difficult due to fallen trees, steepness of inclines, barbed wire and hidden pits. Overall, the terrain and map were very different from that in the UK.

The organisers had arranged boat transport to take competitors to the island event. The journey time was 1.5 hours and stopped at several other islands on route. The weather improved during the week and temperatures on the island reached 30 degrees C, making the day extremely pleasant. The event was a combination of pine forest and urban orienteering which I found more runnable and suitable, finishing first in W21L.

The final day of competition held in the historical Grand Bazaar was a supersprint, and also incorporated a ‘sport labyrinth’. The map was ‘multi level’ and the routes passed exotic stalls selling spices, rugs and gold. The Bazaar was closed to the public but a considerable number of Turkish athletes participated adding atmosphere within the narrow alleyways. I finished third behind French and Australian competitors in W21L.

On the Saturday evening a special boat trip was arranged on the Bosphorous with a barbeque and Turkish dancing. The views from the boat were spectacular with mosques, bridges and other historical buildings floodlit.

Overall the event was very well organised and was unique in that it was held in two continents. Additionally it was a great opportunity and experience to orienteer in the Grand Bazaar.

The trip to the city certainly provided a taste of the ‘delights’ of Turkey.

Fiona Forrest

Day 1 - Belgrad Forest

Day 1 – Belgrad Forest

Belgrad course

Belgrad course