According to various sources, in the Ottoman Empire, when a senior official was given a death sentence, he'd race with his executioner. If he were to win the race, the death sentence would be commuted, and he'd merely be banished instead.
For a grand vizier, however, there was still a chance: as soon as the death sentence was passed, the condemned man would be allowed to run as fast as he was able the 300 yards or so from the palace, through the gardens, and down to the Fish Market Gate on the southern side of the palace complex, overlooking the Bosphorus, which was the appointed place of execution.
If the deposed vizier reached the Fish Market Gate before the head gardener, his sentence was commuted to mere banishment. But if the condemned man found the bostanci basha waiting for him at the gate, he was summarily executed and his body hurled into the sea [Source].
I've quoted one particular source above, and there are many others repeating the same claim. I haven't found a reputable source refuting the claim, but it doesn't make much sense to me that people would receive clemency based on such a thing. As a side note, it's also claimed that gardeners also acted as executioners. That's why the source says head gardener rather than head executioner.
All in all, there are two claims that I'd like to verify:
- In the Ottoman Empire, did royal gardeners also act as royal executioners?
- Did some prisoners have the opportunity to escape from their death sentence by outrunning their executioners?