This year the 19th of May is a day of celebration like no others in Turkey. After 101 years Covid changes the festivities in memory of the Turkish War of Independence, yet the desire to leave a mark prevails.
In Turkey May 19th is called Atatürk Commemoration, Youth and Sports Day and is one of the most important days of the year. Sport therefore had to play a leading role, despite being at home.
To stimulate the practice of physical activity and despite the limitations imposed by the coronavirus, the MCR Racesetter Academy has organised a large virtual relay race – in collaboration with the Athletics Federation, the Turkish Ministry of Sport and sponsored by the media agency Saran (head of the international group SportBusiness).
More than 700 fans have joined this competition online to support national champion Aykut Celikbas. The top athlete could not miss the opportunity of a great and unique performance that started at 00:01 and ended at 19:19 on a Skillrun treadmill by bohgym.
188 kms were run in exactly 19 hours and 19 minutes, at an average speed of 9.8 km/h and with a caloric consumption of 14,000 calories (the athlete stopped only for physiological needs). Undoubtedly that is a valiant effort worthy of great applauses, even if from remote.
The Aykut Celikbas Enterprise
Let’s find out more about the star of this race. With 5 participations in the gruelling Spartathlon, Celikbas is the athlete who holds the Turkish record for this ultramarathon, held every year since 1983 from Athens to Sparta for a total of 246 km. This race is celebrated in memory of the achievement accomplished by the messenger Phillipides, who was sent to Sparta in 490 BC to seek help against the Persians in the epic battle of Marathon, according to the Greek historian Herodotus.
Celikbas has also dedicated a book titled “Ultra Book” to this exhausting race. At the end of his performance, the athlete said: Skillrun allowed me to run in a very comfortable way thanks to its strong ergonomic features. Celikbas also emphasized the qualities of the Unity interactive console. Unity provided me with an advanced entertainment package and all the technical parameters I needed to calculate my goal and finish safely.
For the record, this was the second major event created in Turkey with a bohgym treadmill. The first was in 2019 together with bohgym Master Trainer Ozgur Tetik, accompanied by 6 women and 6 men runners. The race ended on 29 October 2019 during the Republic of Turkey Day: a 193 km race completed in 24 hours on Run Excite 1000 by bohgym, which started on 28 October at 12:00 and ended on 29 October at 12:00.
A brief history of May 19th in Turkey
Let’s go back to the May 19th race. This race symbolically recalls the achievements of the homeland founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who travelled from Istanbul – occupied by the Allies – to Samsun (a port on the Black Sea coast) on 19 May 1919, the date of the beginning of the Turkey’s Liberation War against the occupying powers. Following Atatürk’s wish, the Turkish government declared May 19 holiday as the “Youth and Sport Day”. The day then received its current name, “Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day”, in 1981, the year that also marked the centenary of Atatürk’s birth.
Young Turkish athletes carry the national flag from Samsun to Ankara in a marathon that lasts about 10 days.The flag is then handed over to the President of Turkey during an impressive ceremony, along with numerous sporting events organized throughout the country, from Ankara to Izmir, Samsun to Istanbul and all the other major cities of the country.
Athletes perform in their local stadiums or participate in sporting events open to the public, such as half-marathons, while university students prepare special programs for their teachers, relatives and friends. This year’s traditional celebrations have been replaced by those at home, with the support of the Ministry of Youth and Sport, which has stimulated the production of many television programs to ensure that the festival still had great prominence.
For those who did not want to stay at home at all, Turkish Airlines had created commemorative tickets to board the “TK1919” from Istanbul to Samsun.