I had been looking forward to this year’s Hangman Ultra for some time but unfortunately the universe had other ideas. Leading up to the race I had been struggling with some pain in my foot, but I was hopeful that it was just a niggle and that it would go away. Unfortunately not! The pain had got worse and on the night before the race I could hardly walk let alone run, so I done the dreaded and sent Andy the RD an email to let him know that I wouldn’t be racing. BOOOOOO!
The Hangman is organised by Andy and the team behind Ultra Magazine who I had met at their Ultra Festival in 2017, which had been really well organised and great fun, so as I had already booked a hotel for the night before Hannah and I decided to go along anyway and help if we could.
The race starts off in the village of Longparish, Hampshire with the village hall being used for the race HQ. I had managed to book a perfectly placed hotel that was only a short drive away, which meant that we could make it to the start to cheer the runners off without too much of an early morning. As you can see in the photo above this is a low key race with a low number of entrants which I think just adds to the family feel that the whole event has.
After seeing the runners off from the start line we headed back to the village hall for a coffee and a look at the collection of back issues of Ultra for sale, but alas no copies of the one issue I’m missing which is the very first issue. Hannah and I decided to head off to the turn around point and half way of the route at Combe Gibbet. The original gibbet was erected in 1676 but has since been replaced by a replica, it was situated at the top of a hill and a very prominent position to deter people from committing crimes, which is great but does mean it is very windy up there. After spending a few minutes sheltering from the wind with the race volunteers in a gazebo we decided to walk back along the race route for a bit, we were soon greeted by the sight of tiny runners in the distance making their way across the countryside towards us, looking quite happy considering the hill they had just come up, a hill which I struggled to walk up let alone run up at half point in an ultra.
We cheered a few runners through then headed back to race HQ to see the first lot of finishers, if you have never volunteered, spectated, or cheered at a race before I would highly recommend it, having raced lots of races now I know from personal experience what a difference it makes to get a simple cheer towards the end of a race especially if you are struggling a bit.
The Hangman Ultra didn’t go as planned but I still had a great time supporting the other runners, which helped to overcome my disappointment of not racing and the worries caused by the fact that I now had an injury. The Hangman is a great low key event that has a real family feel to it, and it’s greatly organised by Andy and team with great friendly volunteers, I would highly recommend it and will definitely be heading back next year hopefully as a runner but if not as a volunteer. I would also very highly recommend checking out Ultra Magazine and next years Ultra Festival which will see a great list of talks from some of the worlds greats in the ultra running community with a few social runs thrown in.
You can find out more info at www.ultra-magazine.com