Fancy something a bit different from your normal road marathon? I think I have just the thing: The Man versus horse marathon in Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales.
What is it?
Well, it’s pretty much as it sounds. There are some horses and some runners and it’s a 22 mile race over Welsh hillsides to the finish, each year £1,000 is added to the pot if a human can beat the horses. [EDIT – As pointed out by Mike in the comments, the accumulated pot ended in 2004. The prize money is now £1050 (1000 guineas) to the winner, be it horse or runner].
The incredible thing is that whilst horses won every race up to 2003, in 2004 a gentleman called Huw Lobb beat them all to record the first win for humans, picking up £25,000 in prize money for his efforts (at the time, one of the biggest unclaimed prizes in UK athletics). The horses were beaten again in 2007 – this time by 11 minutes.
How did this come about?
Like so many of the best challenges, it started in a pub. In 1980 a local landlord overheard a discussion in the Neuadd Arms. There was a debate about whether a man could outrun a horse over a long distance and the landlord (Gordon Green) decided to set the challenge and put it to the test. In that first race, the horse won by nearly an hour.
Over the years the race has grown significantly and now has up to 50 horses and 500 runners – this allows the race to claim the title of the “World’s Largest Horse Race” as the national only has 40 horses.
If you don’t fancy the 22 mile race then the same village also holds an annual bog snorkelling race!
If you want to take part and check out some other interesting events check out the entry link here. The Man Versus Horse Marathon takes place on 8th June 2013 and now includes a three person relay option for those who don’t fancy the whole thing.