Man versus Horse Marathon
The Man versus Horse Marathon is an annual race over 22 miles (35 km), where runners compete against riders on horseback. The race — which is a shorter distance than an official marathon road race — takes place in the Welsh town of Llanwrtyd Wells every June. There are other Man versus Horse races in Scotland based at Dores, near Loch Ness, Central North Island, New Zealand and in Prescott, Arizona.
The event started in 1980, when local landlord Gordon Green overheard a discussion between two men in his pub, the Neuadd Arms. One man suggested that over a significant distance across country, man was equal to any horse. Green decided that the challenge should be tested in full public view, and organised the first event.
The first woman to run the race was Ann King in 1981. In 1982, the route of the course was amended slightly to give a more even match between the competitors. The course is slightly shorter than a traditional marathon at a reported 22 miles, but over rougher terrain. In 1985, cyclists were allowed to compete too - and that year, U.S. ladies' champion cyclist Jacquie Phelan narrowly lost to the first horse. In 1989, British cyclist Tim Gould beat the first horse by three minutes - the first time that a horse was beaten by a human in the race.
In 2004, the 25th race was won by Huw Lobb in 2 hours, 5 minutes and 19 seconds. It was the first time that a man racing on foot has won the race, thereby winning the prize fund of £25,000, which had been growing by £1,000 each year from the race's inception until claimed by a winning runner. The year's race also saw the highest ever number of competitors; 500 runners and 40 horses. The feat was repeated in 2007, when human competitors outpaced the first equine competitor by up to 11 minutes.
The 2009 race was marred by controversy when the organizers deducted time spent in the 'vet checks' from the horse times in addition to the 15 minutes for the delayed start of the horses. The deduction of this additional time enabled the horse to triumph by 8 minutes, instead of being defeated by 2. Whilst the organizers at the time claimed that the time spent in the vet check (which is not accurately monitored on a horse-by-horse basis) had always been deducted, this had not occurred in previous years. The fastest runner, Martin Cox, refused to accept the winners trophy in protest at the decision. Following protests from other competitors, the organizers reverted to the previously followed rules of only deducting 15 minutes for the 2010 edition of the race. However, despite Haggai Chepkwony running the fastest time since Huw Lobb's record-breaking effort in 2004, a horse triumphed by 10 minutes. 2011 featured a number of very good riders and horses competing, and the wet track conditions favored horses over runners, but some very good times were recorded by the front runners. The winning rider was Beti Gordon riding Next in Line Grangeway, while the top runner was Charlie Pearson from London.
2012 saw the return of Huw Lobb, the runner who first beat the horse and landed £25,000 as a bonus. His winning time was, however, considerably down on his winning time from 2004. Coming 3rd in the Cork Marathon just five days earlier may have contributed to his running slower than perhaps he might have been able to. In 2013, extensive forestry works meant the organizers had to modify the route considerably, resulting in a course of nearly 24 miles, instead of the usual route of just under 21 miles. Despite a very hot day, the longer and hillier course favoured the horses, with 2011 winner Beti Gordon comfortably beating the first man, Hugh Aggleton.
The 2013 race attracted an entry of 65 horses, with 44 completing the course, enabling it to lay claim to being "the world's largest horse race". Following a number of criticisms of the extended course in 2013 and 2014, the course for 2015 was shortened back towards 21 miles. This provided a more even match between man and equine, with Geoffrey Allen on Leo emerging victorious by just over 10 minutes from Hugh Aggleton. It was Allen's 4th outright win, and his 5th time as first horseman, having been beaten by Florian Holzinger in 2007.
In 2019, several media reports suggested American ultra-runner Michael Wardian was a serious contender to beat the horse and win the prize of £3500. As it turned out, not only did Wardian not beat the horse, he couldn’t beat the humans either; Jack Wood from Ilkey R.C. was first human finisher in a time of 2:23:48, over 5 minutes adrift of the Horse.
Note that the times are not necessarily comparable from year to year due to changes of the rules and the course layout.
|Year||Winner||Fastest Horse||Fastest Runner||Weather Conditions||Going|
|2019||Horse||Mark Adams on Woottonheath Herbie (2:18:51)||Jack Wood (2:23:48)||Cool||Soft to Heavy|
|2018||Horse||Peter Davies on Ronnie (2:34:49)||Joe Dale (2:35:12)||Rain/Sun||Soft|
|2017||Horse||Iola Evans on Rheidol Petra (2:23:03)||Owen Beilby (2:50:21)||Rainy||Heavy|
|2016||Horse||Lindsey Walters on Deliva Crianza (2:17:58)||Ross MacDonald (2:37:51)||Cloudy and Humid||Good, Good to soft in places|
|2015||Horse||Geoffrey Allen on Leo (2:20:46)||Hugh Aggleton (2:30:35)||Rain/Warm||Good to Soft|
|2014||Horse||Geoffrey Allen on Leo (2:22:53)||Jonathan Albon (2:42:49)||Warm to Hot||Good to Soft|
|2013||Horse||Beti Gordon on Next in line Grangeway (2:18:03)||Hugh Aggleton (2:46:25)||Hot||Good|
|2012||Horse||Iola Evans on Rheidol Star (2:00:51)||Huw Lobb (2:25:57)||Cloudy||Very Heavy|
|2011||Horse||Beti Gordon on Next in line Grangeway (2:08:37)||Charlie Pearson (2:25:45)||Rain/Sun/Windy||Heavy|
|2010||Horse||Llinos Mair Jones on Sly Dai (2:07:04)||Haggai Chepkwony (2:17:27)||Hot||Good to Soft|
|2009||Horse||Geoffrey Allen on Dukes Touch of Fun (2:11:43)||Martin Cox (2:20:02)||Hot||Heavy|
|2008||Horse||Geoffrey Allen on Dukes Touch of Fun (2:18:13)||John Macfarlane (2:18:43)||Hot||Good to Soft|
|2007||Human||Geoffrey Allen on Lucy (2:31:26)||Florian Holzinger (2:20:30)||Hot||Good to Firm|
|2006||Horse||Denise Meldrum on Tarran Bay (2:10:29)||Haggai Chepkwony (2:19:06)||Warm||Soft|
|2005||Horse||Lise Cooke on Gifted Lady (2:19:11)||Stephen Goulding (2:33:22)||Unknown||Unknown|
|2004||Human||Zoe White on Kay Bee Jay (2:07:36)||Huw Lobb (2:05:19)||Hot||Unknown|
|2003||Horse||Robyn Petrie-Ritchie on Druimguiga Shemal (2:02:01)||Mark Croasdale (2:19:02)||Unknown||Unknown|
|2002||Horse||Robyn Petrie-Ritchie on Druimguiga Shemal (2:02:23)||James McQueen (2:18:52)||Unknown||Unknown|
|2001||Horse||Heather Evans on Royal Mikado (2:08:06)||Martin Cox (2:17:17)||Unknown||Unknown|
|2000||Horse||Heather Evans on Royal Mikado (2:08)||Mark Croasdale (2:10)||Unknown||Unknown|
|1999||Horse||Jackie Gilmour on Ruama (1:58)||Mark Palmer (2:16)||Unknown||Unknown|
|1998||Horse||Jackie Gilmour on Ruama (1:46)||Stuart Major (2:16)||Unknown||Unknown|
|1997||Horse||Megan Lewis on Silver Sea Gem (1:52)||Paul Cadwallader (2:09)||Unknown||Unknown|
|1996||Horse||Ken Mapp on Ahmaar (1:57)||Mark Palmer (2:12)||Unknown||Unknown|
|1995||Horse||Ken Mapp on Ahmaar (1:57)||Paul Cadwallader (2:06)||Unknown||Unknown|
|1994||Horse||Celia Tymons on Eskalabar (1:52)||Mark Croasdale (2:09)||Unknown||Unknown|
|1993||Horse||John Hudson on unknown (1:47)||Robin Bergstrand (2:03)||Unknown||Unknown|
|1992||Horse||Zoe Jennings on Hussar (1:38)||Derek Green (2:09)||Unknown||Unknown|
|1991||Horse||Zoe Jennings on Hussar (1:30)||Mark Croasdale (2:05)||Unknown||Unknown|
|1990||Horse||Ray Jenkins on The Doid and Chris Powell on Elkie (1:36)||Glyn Williams (2:07)||Unknown||Unknown|
|1989||Horse||Ray Jenkins on The Doid (1:54)||Mark Croasdale (2:10)||Unknown||Unknown|
|1988||Horse||John Davies on Mavies (1:47)||Mark Croasdale (2:08)||Unknown||Unknown|
|1987||Horse||Ray Jenkins on The Doid and Bill George on Mando (1:32)||Paul Wheeler (1:57)||Unknown||Unknown|
|1986||Horse||Nia Tudno-Jones on Jenny (1:44)||Fuselier Hughes (2:08)||Unknown||Unknown|
|1985||Horse||Nia Tudno-Jones on Jenny (1:40)||David Woodhead (2:08)||Unknown||Unknown|
|1984||Horse||William Jones on Solitaire (1:20)||David Woodhead (2:05)||Unknown||Unknown|
|1983||Horse||Ann Thomas on Nutmeg (1:26)||Dic Evans (2:02)||Unknown||Unknown|
|1982||Horse||Sue Thomas on Simon (2:06)||Paul Brownson (2:10)||Unknown||Unknown|
|1981||Horse||Clive Powell on Sultan (2:02)||Dic Evans (2:24)||Unknown||Unknown|
|1980||Horse||Glyn Jones on Solomon (1:27)||Dic Evans (2:10)||Unknown||Unknown|
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