The Hangman Ultra

Organised by the publisher of Ultra Magazine, The Hangman Ultra is a 54km (33.5 miles) trail race. It starts in the village of Longparish, Hampshire and follows the Test Way north to the Combe Gibbet, where you turn around and head back to the start. The race was Saturday 21st August.

The race briefing had been delivered via a Youtube video to keep things Covid safe, so after briefly visiting the village hall to collect my race number I was back in the car prepping for the race. There were only 45 runners so we had the joy of a mass start in the recreation field next to the village hall. It was raining before the start, so I sheltered under one of the gazebos, chatting to a few other runners. Just before 9 the rain started to ease off, so I ventured out for the start. It was fun to get back to real races after so many virtual events, or staggered start / time trial events.

At 9 o’clock we were set off, and I soon found myself running in a small group of 5 just behind the leader. I stuck with the group up the first couple of climbs, but lost touch on a slippery downhill section through the woods, and arrived at the first checkpoint in 4th place, just as the three leaders left.
The next section was good fast running, around some horse paddocks and then along a track through the woods. The climb up to Long Barrow was steep, but thankfully not too long, and then I was running along the ridge crest to the Gibbet. At this stage the three leaders passed me heading back down the trail, while I checked in at the aid station.

I pushed hard for a few miles on the downhill section and back through the woods, trying to catch the leaders, while greeting the runners coming up behind me. However despite my efforts, I didn’t see the group ahead, as they were racing each other for the win, and moving too fast for me to catch them. There were a few heavy showers during the return leg, but generally the weather was fine, although the trail was increasingly muddy on the return section from the rain and race traffic.

The trail was really well marked with Test Way pointers, as well as red flags put out by the race organiser, and I also had the route gpx on my watch as backup, so navigation was very easy, letting me just enjoy the run. It is a beautiful rural route, passing a number of thatched cottages and farms, and although there were a couple of hills it was all very manageable.

After my last race (NDW50) where I walked the second half it felt good to be running well and holding a reasonable pace for the full duration. I’ve changed my training recently, cutting back on running volume, but going to the gym for strength sessions at least twice a week. This seems to be working well as I felt good, and the drop in mileage didn’t seem to be a problem.

I finished in just over 5hrs (5:00:29), in 4th place, so a good result. The wooden finishers medal is great, and doubles as a coaster, so I had to try it out later on the Saturday night.

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