Man (and Woman!) vs. Horse Marathon Race Report – Saturday 8th June 2019
Just a bit of background: This was the 40th year of the race that takes place in the town of Llanwrtyd Wells in Wales, also famous for bog snorkelling and the real ale wobble bike race. The race was conceived after the landlord of the Neuadd arms overheard a debate by two customers, one of whom argued that over a significant distance across country, man was equal to any horse. He decided to organise the event to test this challenge! The human has won the race twice since the event started.
This year 60 horses and 650 runners set off on the 22 mile course, taking on big hills, river crossings and some fairly rough and muddy terrain. We had a welcome break from the rain and enjoyed some spectacular views of this beautiful area. Running against horses was an experience – I found that whilst I was mainly being overtaken, there were some (very small) stretches where us runners definitely had the advantage.
The race was won by the horse Woottonheath Herbie and rider Mark Adams, with Jack Wood as first human 5 minutes later. My mum lives in the town and marshalls every year so I have been meaning to do this for a while. It was intended to be a training run for IM Bolton in July but I had a great race finishing in a time of 3:45, 9th in my age group. The best bit was the atmosphere which was really friendly – the runners, riders plus the amazing volunteers and supporters who handed out sweets, drinks and even cake! I also met ultramarathon legend Michael Wardian at the end when he came over to see my dog and BBC’s Sophie Raworth. So something a bit different and well worth the experience – I will be going back next year!