December 3, 2022

Two Castles and an Abbey Trail Ultra

Top trail runners head for Cyprus to take part in Two Castles and an Abbey Trail Ultra. 

Some of the world’s top trail runners, including Turkey’s fastest man on the trails and a group of experienced ‘desert runners’, are headed for logoCyprus to take part in the Two Castles and an Abbey Trail Ultra on 24th May.

To be held on May 24th, the 80km ‘Lionheart’ race traverses the Kyrenia range starting from the majestic Kantara Crusader castle at 5am and follows single-track trails and jeep tracks across to Buffavento castle and eventually finishing over the ridge down at Bellapais village.

The third running of the event will see Briton David Simpson  defending his unbeaten men’s title against super speedy Turkish runner Mahmut Yavuz, who came second in this Kantara Castleyear’s 130km Iznik Ultra in Turkey in a stunning time of 13 hour, 11mins and 55 seconds.

If Mahmut can maintain that sort of pace on the very rocky Castles Ultra route — which includes a climb to the top of Buffavento when runners have already completed 70km of leg-pounding trails  — David’s record of 10h06 set last year jointly with Turkish runner Aykut Celikbas, is under very real threat.

Buffavento CastleOther challengers include Husseyin Hashas (Turkey), who came 9th in the 130km event of the Iznik ultra in a time of 16.07.30, Firat Kara (Turkey) who was third in the 80km event at Iznik (7:41.34), Kuwait’s Faisal Al-Nakib and Cypriot Devrim Celal — both desert runners — the very experienced ultra-marathoner Gunnar Faehn of Norway, Australian ‘Racing the Planet’ ace Rob Heaslop and Tommi Kaukola of Finland.

In the women’s event, last year’s winner Elena Polyakova (Russia) will be back to defend her title against the likes of Clare Thompson of Britain and Australia’s Meg Heaslop (sister of Rob, also an experienced Racing the Planet ultra runner) and to take on the men (last year she was third overall, less than 30 minutes behind the winning pair).

Special mention: Gerry Dance, well known in Britain as the “Morph Man” because of the distinctive orange ‘morph’ suit Photo by Colinhe wears when he runs to raise money for those suffering from Ankylosing Spondylitis, a chronic arthritis of the spine and sacroiliac joint that he himself was diagnosed with in 1990, has chosen the Two Castles as his first-ever 80km ultra.

Aside from the 80km ultra, two other events will be held in the Kyrenia range on the same day, with all three races ending at Ambelia holiday village in Bellapais.

Braveheart run — this is the last 27km of the Lionheart run, starting at Alevkaya herbarium, taking in the Five Fingers range and Buffavento along the way to Bellpais.

Mountain Goat run — the last 10km of the Lionheart run. A shorter but very scenic race, the first section is extremely rocky (hence the name of the event), but the end is a lovely long stretch of jeep track that winds down to Bellapais.

The Organisers want as many Cypriots as possible to take part to add a strong local flavour to the foreign field. Full details of the event, and how to enter, are to be found at

Runners from the following countries have entered: Cyprus, Britain, Slovak Republic, Kuwait, Norway, Finland, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Australia, Holland, Russia, South Africa, Canada, Germany, United States and France.




1 thought on “North Cyprus, Two Castles and an Abbey

  1. Volunteers to provide support are welcomed. Best places to watch the runners are at Alevkaya, Buffavento and the finish at Bellapais

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