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Grand Bazar Orienteering Experience in Istanbul

Tricky orienteering over two levels – green control circles identifying the second level and purple circles the first level; that is what met Istanbul 5 Days competitors at the Supersprint on Friday. Istanbul is more known for its Grand Bazar than for its Orienteering – but put the two together, and you get a perfect match! Add to that night orienteering with first start at 22.00, and a fantastic party-atmosphere with disco-music greeting the competitors when arriving in the Grand Bazar – and you get an experience none of the 600 competitors will ever forget.

The supersprint in the Grand Bazar is one of the main attractions for the Istanbul 5 Days orienteering – along with the fact that stages are being held both in Europe and Asia, the Island stage on one of the Princes Islands – and of course the great boat party at the Bosphorus with free drink and food after the final stage. It is rumored that some come mostly for the party …

More than 6000 shops

The Grand Bazar has more than 58 streets and 6000 shops according to Wikipedia – most of it with a roof. The Bazar gets between 250.000 and 400.000 visitors daily, and the area is fairly crowded during daytime. Not so at night. For the supersprint the Grand Bazar is only opened for orienteers – the number bib serves as the entrance ticket. – It is very expensive to hire the Grand Bazar for an event, according to Alen Gavar in the organizing team. – However, the state supports us, and for us the price is reduced to a sum it is possible to afford based on the start fee, Gavar explains.

The special thing about the Grand Bazar from an orienteering perspective – is that the map is “multilevel”. That is, part of the controls are on the upper floor – controls on the upper floor being drawn in green to make it clear for the competitor on which floor to search for the control. Very few runners got through the courses without mistakes – most leaving at least two minutes in the maze of small shops. – I made many irritating mistakes. At least two minutes in total. This was my chance to beat him, Nick Barrable (GBR) said after being beaten with nearly a minute by Swedish junior Gustav Bergman in the mens elite – the fourth victory in a row for the upcoming Swedish JWOC competitor.

Gustav Bergmann also took the overall victory in the mens class – including the $400 prize money set up for the winner of the WRE race at the third stage. Iliana Shandurkova (BUL) took a solid overall victory in the women elite category.

Below you see the mens elite course. For maps from the other competitions, see the bottom of the page.


Final stage in Asia

The first three stages of Istanbul 5 Days were held in Belgrade forest in Europe – a big and hilly forest starting at the city boundary of Istanbul, around 20 km to the north of Istanbul. The area gives some route choice challenges due to varying vegatation (with some thorny areas) and hills. See maps from the first three stages at the bottom of the page.

The final stage was held on one of the Princess Islands located in Asıa – a little more than one hour boat trip from Istanbul city center. The terrain was much faster this last day, and with the increasıngly warm weather (around 25 degrees the last day), a cooling bath at the beach was very welcome among many of the competitors. See the map from the last Island stage at the bottom of this page.


Some pictures to let you in on the great atmosphere of Istanbul 5 Days.



Map with men elite course of the other 4 stages of Istanbul 5 Days.


For full results and more information about Istanbul 5 Days, see

About Jan Kocbach

Jan Kocbach is the founder of WorldofO.com - taking care of everything from site development to writing articles, photography and analysis.

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  1. We will keep on doing our best to make Istanbul5days growing and being better each year. Thank you for your support! =)

    Durukan Dudu, from organizing committee

  2. Durukan: It was sooo much better than expected, so I thought I’d share it with people to let others get a chance as well:) I just wanted a week of vacation somewhere with a bit of orienteering after too much work lately, and found that Istanbul was at appropriate dates. I don’t regret a second;) Good organization and nice competitions. The Grand Bazar orienteering is one of the things all orienteers should have on their “Must-have-once-in-a-lifetime” list along with Karst terrain of Slovenia, Venezia street-o, orienteering at the Fjords in Western Norway, Jukola, 10Mila and O-Ringen (to take a few from the top of my head). There are also some areas in France which are high on my list, but still not explored;)

    And for the record: As always, articles on World of O are not “sponsored” in any way – you can be sure that content in articles written here are objective.

  3. Silvia Shandurkova

    Lovely article and pictures! Best fits the competitions there and your talent of presenting them!

  4. I’d like to thank to all organizers of Istanbul 5 Days especially for amazing adventure party in Grand Bazar and exotic final stage on Heybeliada. And also to Jan for his article and pictures. See you in sandstony Valecov. Tradition has continued in sommer 2008.