the neck of the sleeping giant - Meis to Kaş swim race
a place of great attraction
It has been a long day travel before we finally pass the mountain peaks on the Mediterranean coast. We stop and get out of the car because the view from here above the coast is majestic. The sea has this deep blue colour, providing a perfect contrast to the islands and peninsulas that give this coastline its natural beauty. The small city down there is Kaş, one of the last places at the Turkish Mediterranean that haven't been swallowed up entirely by the tourism industry. This is because of its remote location. Forty years ago there wasn't even a proper road to this place and the city was at that time not much more than a fishermen's village. All these years Kaş was always an insider's tip for relaxing and low budget holidays. We are glad that this place could maintain its autonomous character and beauty. It is a place of great attraction and we are coming back here for relaxing holidays for many years.
Located right in front of Kaş's coastline is Meis island. Although quite close to the Turkish coast it is a Greek island with a small picture-perfect harbour in the town of Kastellorizo. We will visit the harbour this Sunday but not so much for touristic purpose. We are here for the XIV. Meis - Kaş open water swim race (XIV. Uluslararası Meis - Kaş Yüzme Yarışması ) and Kastellorizo will be the start point. The race has a long tradition and aims to bring Turkish and Greek cultures and neighbours closer together. For us, it is the second time that we come here to attend this international competition and Meis - Kaş 2018 is our 3rd race in the last 4 weeks.
From our hotel on Kaş peninsula, we have a fantastic view of Meis island which doesn't look so far away from here. After breakfast, we decide to go for a training swim. The hotel has a rocky pier with a staircase to enter the sea but the wind is pushing huge waves against the shore and we have difficulties to get safe into and out of the water. Although training under such conditions is quite effective, we decided not to overdo it one day before the race. We wonder, what if we have such weather conditions tomorrow?
the sleeping mountain giant
Sunday morning at 06:30 we meet with all the other swimmers at Kaş ferry boat harbour. Here we get the start numbers painted on our shoulders before we pass through the passport control and enter the ferries that will bring us to Kastellorizo. The weather is calm and there is still enough time to get prepared, drink some water, put suncream on and do some stretching. At 08:00 the ferries take off and by the time we are near Meis island, the Kaş finish line has become invisible. In order to swim a 7.5 km straight line from start to finish, we have to find a landmark to get proper directions during the race. From other swimmers, we learn that we should always aim at "the neck of the sleeping giant". Pointing at the mountain range behind Kaş, somebody explains to us the meaning of it. And yes, with a little imagination we can see the giant lying on the mountain range. Where the "shoulder meets the neck" is our landmark
At 09:00 sharp the race is on. We jump into the water from the pier in Kastellorizo and swim first out of the harbour towards the northern tip of Meis island. The starting field soon stretches out and the leading group of swimmers is off and away. So I have to find my own pace as soon as possible. Occasionally accompanied by curious sea turtles, I'm swimming a fast but lonely race, frequently checking my bearing towards the sleeping giant's neck. After 1:58 hours I'm crossing as overall number 9 the finish line in Kaş. My race time is more than 10 min faster than two years ago. It was a good race and I'm happy receiving a gold medal for the best time in my age group.