23rd August, 2016
What a day that was. The first running of The Hangman Ultra, a 50K (ish) multi-surface run through beautiful Hampshire countryside.
I'm sorry if you missed it. I know some of our registered runners were injured or couldn't come for another reason. I don't mean to rub it in or 'show you what you could have won' like a speedboat in an episode of Bullseye (Google it if you're younger than I). But, I wish to celebrate the success of the inaugural ULTRA race with you all. The marshals too.
The Hangman Ultra was a magnificent spectacle. It had been almost nine months in the planning - compared with the magazine which took five months to first produce. It was 'only' 54km long, and a weird out-and-back format, so a little bit unusual and I knew it was good, but I wasn't sure how good until it actually happened.
72 runners registered that morning, then lined up for the race briefing at Longparish Village Hall in beautiful Hampshire, at 8:45am Saturday. It was my first, possibly as nervous as the runners, and ran a minute or two over time - lesson learned. I explained about some of the places where people could go wrong, reiterated some of the expectations (no littering, be respectful, close gates, don't make farmers angry etc) before asking all the runners to troop outside and make their way to the start line a couple of hundred metres away. After a countdown, all the runners set off at 9:03am. I wasn't sure how I'd feel at that point. The truth is, it was quite weird to think they were finally embarking on this adventure I'd been planning for them for so long.
At CP1 at Hurstbourne Tarrant, 14.5km into the race, four people - Peter Sutton, William McMillan, Mark Smith and Dudley Desborough - arrived in 1:06, a 7-minute lead over Henry Church and first female Valeria Sesto. All looked determined and competitive. But that didn't stop at the sharp end: although one competitor dropped at this point through injury, all others were through by 11:11am, almost an hour ahead of the cut-off. Everyone was taking this seriously. Brilliant.
The turnaround point in this out-and-back race, at the 27km point, is Combe Gibbet, a two-sided structure built to display the bodies of two murderers in the 17th century, and allegedly the land of seven counties can be seen from the top of the hill. That also means the area is very exposed, and the marshals at CP2 felt the full force of the 45mph winds and very little shelter. The marshals had attempted to erect a gazebo to provide some shelter for them and the runners picking up food and water; but unfortunately the wind caught it first and bent it totally out of shape - a brand-new gazebo rendered useful only for the hungry maw of the dump. Now shelter-less, the marshals resorted to parking their cars back-to-back and chopping/serving/pouring from the confines of their car boots. Very innovative, and the runners very grateful for some malt loaf, flapjacks and other goodies.
The first through were Peter, William and Mark again, with Dudley now three minutes behind them. Had those grinding uphills and gusting wind got to him or could he come back into contention for a podium place? The ladies race was being led by Valeria Sesto who passed through in 2:25, 5th position overall, followed by Emily Warren in 2:43 and Merilyn Davis in 3:00.
There was one more injury drop, but again all competitors through almost 30 minutes inside the cut-off. With 27km to go we asked the marshals at CP2 and CP3 to chivvy the competitors along a bit to make sure they weren't going to fall foul of the 7pm cut-off for the finish, and marshal Chloe Sellwood could continue to run with those at the back of the pack to make sure they finished in time and happy.
Back at Hurstbourne Tarrant, now converted into CP3 positioned at the 39.5km point, the marshals eagerly awaited the first runners, and now the leaders were split - Peter clear in front in 3:10, with Mark a minute behind in second place. William and Dudley were two minutes behind. Everyone was still smiling as they passed through, despite having 14.5km to go until the finish - more malt loaf and other goodies required, plus they went through gallons of Coke at this stage. The measures to help competitors through worked well, with all competitors through 1 hour and 22 minutes inside the cut-off, and clear to finish with 3:22 to cover the last 14.5km.
And what a finish! It's fairly rare to see a sprint at the end of an ultra, but Peter Sutton and William McMillan made their way together through the gate into the Longparish football field where we started, and gunned it diagonally down the pitch to the finish line, with Peter edging it by just 2 seconds in 4:30:11 against William's 4:30:13. Mark Smith came in just 19 seconds later for an extremely good third place for his first ultra.
Valeria Sesto won the ladies race in 5:16:10, having run well but made a lot of wrong turns, yet still ran a creditable 6th place overall behind Henry Church in 5:15:00. Emily Warren held on to the 2nd female spot in 5:56:54, with Merilyn Davis 3rd female in 6:27:25.
Putting medals around the necks of people who've just run this distance, watching the raw emotion and the pride at finishing the race, is something I'll never forget. It's a beautiful experience, making the pain and frustration dotting the prior 9 months fade away and in place a euphoria, not dissimilar to the feeling of finishing an ultra. The most emotional moments in ultras are usually reserved for the last places, and sure enough the final pair of Ellie Randall and Felicity Flanagan, accompanied by marshal Chloe, saw a few tears in the eyes of runners, spectators and race crew, moments captured by Guillaume Arthus in his great video (link).
I'll treasure many of Stuart March's wonderful pictures from this race (link to browse/buy), but the one above probably most of all.
"All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain."
Yet will remain in the memories our band of brothers and sisters forever. It marked the end of a truly wonderful journey, the happy meeting of a group of people with simple aims: to have fun, and to either run a long way or to assist others in doing so.
What a day.
Final Race Results
|Finish pos.||Bib no||Name||CP1||CP2||CP3||Finish|
|(winner, 1st male)||Pos: =1||Pos: =1||Pos: 1||Pos: 1|
|(2nd male)||Pos: =1||Pos: =1||Pos: 3||Pos: 2|
|(3rd male)||Pos: =1||Pos: =1||Pos: 2||Pos: 3|
|Pos: =1||Pos: 4||Pos: 3||Pos: 4|
|Pos: =5||Pos: =5||Pos: 6||Pos: 5|
|(1st female)||Pos: =5||Pos: =5||Pos: 5||Pos: 6|
|Pos: 8||Pos: 11||Pos: =7||Pos: 7|
|Pos: 9||Pos: 9||Pos: 9||Pos: 8|
|Pos: =12||Pos: =12||Pos: =18||Pos: =9|
|=9||55||Lajos Gergely Gyurko||01:19:00||02:39:00||03:57:00||05:44:15|
|Pos: =10||Pos: =10||Pos: 11||Pos: =9|
|Pos: =12||Pos: =12||Pos: =12||Pos: =11|
|Pos: =10||Pos: =10||Pos: 10||Pos: =11|
|Pos: =19||Pos: =12||Pos: =12||Pos: 13|
|Pos: =16||Pos: =19||Pos: =14||Pos: =14|
|Pos: =16||Pos: =19||Pos: =14||Pos: =14|
|Pos: =26||Pos: =17||Pos: =16||Pos: =16|
|(2nd female)||Pos: =16||Pos: 16||Pos: =16||Pos: =16|
|Pos: =26||Pos: =17||Pos: =20||Pos: 18|
|Pos: =34||Pos: =24||Pos: 27||Pos: 19|
|Pos: 24||Pos: =19||Pos: =20||Pos: 20|
|Pos: =34||Pos: =26||Pos: =20||Pos: 21|
|Pos: =19||Pos: =24||Pos: 28||Pos: 22|
|(3rd female)||Pos: =34||Pos: =26||Pos: =20||Pos: =23|
|Pos: 23||Pos: =32||Pos: 30||Pos: =23|
|Pos: =26||Pos: =19||Pos: =24||Pos: =23|
|Pos: =31||Pos: 37||Pos: 31||Pos: 26|
|Pos: 50||Pos: =32||Pos: 29||Pos: 27|
|Pos: =34||Pos: =26||Pos: =24||Pos: 28|
|Pos: =46||Pos: =19||Pos: =24||Pos: 29|
|Pos: =19||Pos: 41||Pos: 42||Pos: 30|
|Pos: =34||Pos: =32||Pos: =37||Pos: 31|
|Pos: =42||Pos: =38||Pos: 32||Pos: 32|
|Pos: =19||Pos: =32||Pos: =35||Pos: 33|
|Pos: =34||Pos: =29||Pos: 39||Pos: 34|
|Pos: =42||Pos: =38||Pos: =37||Pos: 35|
|Pos: 25||Pos: =32||Pos: =35||Pos: 36|
|Pos: =46||Pos: 45||Pos: 43||Pos: 37|
|38||52||Manuel Ponce Escudero||01:59:00||03:33:00||05:09:00||06:56:42|
|Pos: =66||Pos: 54||Pos: 47||Pos: 38|
|Pos: =46||Pos: =57||Pos: =51||Pos: 39|
|Pos: =34||Pos: =42||Pos: 41||Pos: 40|
|Pos: =46||Pos: =57||Pos: =51||Pos: 41|
|Pos: =57||Pos: =49||Pos: 48||Pos: 42|
|Pos: =26||Pos: =29||Pos: =33||Pos: =43|
|Pos: =26||Pos: =29||Pos: =33||Pos: =43|
|Pos: =42||Pos: =38||Pos: 40||Pos: 45|
|Pos: =50||Pos: =46||Pos: 46||Pos: 46|
|Pos: =57||Pos: =51||Pos: =51||Pos: 47|
|Pos: 33||Pos: 44||Pos: 45||Pos: 48|
|Pos: =34||Pos: =42||Pos: 44||Pos: 49|
|Pos: =57||Pos: 53||Pos: =51||Pos: 50|
|Pos: 55||Pos: =49||Pos: 55||Pos: 51|
|Pos: =50||Pos: 55||Pos: 54||Pos: 52|
|Pos: 61||Pos: =62||Pos: 59||Pos: 53|
|Pos: 56||Pos: =51||Pos: =56||Pos: 54|
|Pos: =31||Pos: 48||Pos: =56||Pos: =55|
|=55||78||M J P Hogan||01:34:00||03:18:00||05:11:00||07:36:00|
|Pos: =42||Pos: =46||Pos: 49||Pos: =55|
|Pos: 65||Pos: 59||Pos: 58||Pos: 57|
|Pos: 60||Pos: 56||Pos: 60||Pos: 58|
|Pos: 63||Pos: 64||Pos: 61||Pos: 59|
|Pos: =50||Pos: =60||Pos: =62||Pos: 60|
|Pos: =50||Pos: =60||Pos: =62||Pos: 61|
|Pos: 6||Pos: 8||Pos: =7||Pos: 62|
|Pos: 68||Pos: 66||Pos: 65||Pos: 63|
|Pos: 62||Pos: =62||Pos: 64||Pos: 64|
|Pos: =66||Pos: 67||Pos: 66||Pos: 65|
|Pos: 69||Pos: 68||Pos: 67||Pos: 66|
|Pos: 70||Pos: 71||Pos: 68||Pos: 67|
|Pos: 72||Pos: =69||Pos: =69||Pos: 68|
|Pos: 71||Pos: =69||Pos: =69||Pos: 69|
|Pos: =12||Pos: =12||Pos: =18||DNF|
|Pos: 64||Pos: 65||n/a||DNF|
Thanks finally to Keith from ULTRAmarathonRunningStore.com for providing prizes for the top three male and top three female competitors; their prizes will be going out to them shortly.