Introduction by Margaret Sheard …..

We are delighted to announce that Ahmet Abdulaziz will be joining the Cyprus Scene newspaper as a columnist and also providing articles covering sport and social activities in the Lefkoşa area, together with interviews.

He has a lot of experience having worked as a freelance journalist for about 11 years, during the 1980s, while in Pakistan.  Ahmet’s contribution to the newspaper will also be shared on the cyprusscene.com website.

We met Ahmet Abdulaziz some years ago when we talked with him about his running/walking hobby and I wrote an article for  cyprusscene.com entitled “Ahmet Abdulaziz – I Run, I Walk”.   To read this article click here. 

We discovered Ahmet had many talents, as well as running/walking, he has written books and he is also a very talented artist.

We are delighted that Ahmet has chosen to write for the Cyprus Scene newspaper and below is his first contribution:

By Ahmet Abdulaziz …..

A page from my running diary

The year was 2015, and I had publicly announced that I intended to carry on my run/walk from Famagusta to Nicosia on 9th September, which is an important day in Cyprus history.

On 9th September 1570 the Ottoman forces had reached Lefkoşa (Nicosia) and conquered it, marching all the way from Famagusta.

My aim for that almost 62km run/walk on that particular day was not just to commemorate this special day but also to relive that passage personally.

I dedicated this run/walk to the North Cyprus Diabetic Society, which had provided me with the light blue T-shirt, with its monogram, which I wore for the whole of that day.

I had prepared myself well for that adventure, but as always I was a bit nervous, when starting off at 5.30am from the outer roundabout of Famagusta port. The weather was a bit cool at that time, as the sun was just sneaking up, at my back. The road lights were still on. I was all alone. There was no traffic at that moment. Almost no sound.  Complete silence. I looked up the road. The long, long, road ahead of me, which was going to be my soul mate for the next 60 kilometers.

With usual rest intervals, I had planned to finish this run/walk in 10 or 11 hours period of time.

I started off running at a good speed, with very high spirits. The weather was fine, the sun was rising behind me,  A small bottle of water in my hand, two small packs of biscuits inserted in my back pocket, I was striding high to cover as much distance as possible before the rising sun’s heat started hurting me from the back.

I had not perhaps even run the first 3 km, when I met the first unwanted hurdle. I heard dogs barking, from my right hand side. I was running on the right hand side of the road, and I saw two dogs rushing towards me from a distance. I stopped, and tried to create my first defense line against them, by quickly crossing over to the left side of the road. I slowed down. I picked up a small piece of wood from the roadside, to use for my defense in case the dogs crossed over the road. I kept on running, but slowly, looking back towards the approaching dogs. I stopped again, as I thought that the dogs would chase me if I continued running. I was lucky, they stayed on the right hand side of the road, constantly barking. I continued walking slowly. They did not move further, and I swiftly passed out of the danger zone.

Switching back to the right hand side of the road, I reached the Dortyol police station without any difficulty. The initial ten kilometers had been completed without any difficulty. I took my first short break of 5 minutes there, as I saw bunches of red grapes hanging out of the wall of the police station. I took as many as I could eat right there, and a handful to carry along.

Now the sun was making its presence felt, particularly on the back of my neck. I turned back my cap, with the flap down, so a large part of my neck was under its shade.  This was not a permanent solution, as the road was not exactly straight. Frequently the sun was directly attacking my back. In high spirits, however, I continued running with short gaps plugged with walking. Non-stop I crossed the Pirhan, some 4 kilometers from Dortyol. The army men guarding the main Pirhan Military camp were alert. Still running, I asked them, ”how are you soldier,” (Nasılsınız asker), and with loud unified voice they replied , “we are fine” (sağol).  I crossed the long outer wall of the camp, in quick steps.

The weather had started becoming hot. I had finished most of the water in my bottle. I needed a refill. I was thirsty, but I did not want to drink the remaining water before finding a market or house to refill or change my water. I continued running. The hot weather had starting affecting my performance.  I had started running less and walking more.

I crossed Kurudere at about 11.30. My speed had gone terribly down. I was hungry and thirsty under scorching heat. The long  straight road was shining before my eyes  and although I was wearing dark glasses, I could still see the road glittering. The traffic was passing fast, by my side. Almost all of them were noticing me. Some waved hands. I was still in high spirits but tired. I decided to take rest under a tree. I finished the first packet of biscuits and finished the remaining water. I rested there for almost half an hour.

As I was resting there, a reporter from a local television channel, found me. Recording a detailed interview took almost another half an hour.

Fresh from the long rest, I re-started running with very high spirits, as if I was never tired. I was running as if I had not spent a long period of time under the sun running. Picking up a good speed, I was heading towards Aslanköy, which was still far off. The sun was above my head. I was running a bit off the road to get benefit of the shade of the trees alongside the road. This technique though reduced my speed a bit, as the terrain was not good, but that helped me a lot to avoid the sun.

Walking and running, I reached the Aslankoy turning point. From a market, not far away from the main road, I took two small bottles of water, and two packets of biscuits. I gave myself another long rest break. I half lay under a tree, I drank a lot of water and ate biscuits. It was terribly hot, but a cool breeze could be felt under the shade of the tree. I rested there for more than half an hour. I finished the second bottle of water too before re-starting running. I bought another bottle of water from the market, to help me to reach my next stop.

I re-started running, but very slowly, with long walking periods in between. The heat was tiring me, making me frustrated but there was no other option for me, except to keep moving ahead.

That was the difficult stage, with which every long distance runner comes face to face. How to continue running, with still a long way ahead, when terribly tired. For this stage I usually say that long distance running is 30% fitness and 70% strong willpower.

My next stop was under the bridge cross-over that goes to Ercan airport. I sat under the shade of the bridge. Once again giving myself a long break. The terribly hot weather had affected me very badly.  I finished the water bottle, and consumed the second pack of biscuits too. I knew that Erulku market would be my next stop, which was still more than 3 kilometers from there. I was still running slowly, badly tired but I did know that the worst part of the run was over. The sun was no longer over my head. I had completed more than half of the run but it was still hard to run constantly. I was walking more and running less, consuming much time but there was no other option left for me. I could not afford stopping. I had had to keep on pushing myself constantly.

The Erulku market, near the Minarelikoy crossing was my next stop. I was feeling hungry again. I bought some cake pieces for myself, as I was badly in need of fresh calories, to take me up to Lefkosa, which was still 15 kilometers away. I gave myself another long rest break, as I ate the cake pieces and cookies. Filled myself with water, and started off running with renewed enthusiasm and re-charged willpower.

I had started pushing myself to run more and walk less, as the heat was not at its peak anymore. The worst part of my expedition was over. I started running with good speed. Crossing the Haspolat crossing was not a big deal anymore. I had started feeling myself afresh for the last 10 kilometers push.

After passing the Cyprus International University, I increased my running speed, as the end of the ordeal was going to end in about the two next hours. The spark of the heat was almost finished, as I restarting running fast, through Hamitkoy crossing, past the Kıbrıs Newspaper building, and the Ataturk Stadium traffic lights. For me the last phase of running had started. I reached the finish point of my run of about 60km, at about 4.30 pm.

I had successfully completed another long distance running/walking goal. Unforgettable indeed.

Editor’s Note

So what does Ahmet do when he takes time off from running/walking?  He paints!