A Different Type of Marathon


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A 30-year tradition continued June 12 with the usual outcome: Horse beats man.

Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys, a town known for spas in Wales (Great Britain), is the home to the Man versus Horse Marathon, a 22-mile race where human runners compete against riders on horseback. (So, technically, since a real marathon is 26.2 miles, it’s not really a marathon, but I digress…) According to Wikipedia the race was started in 1980 when a discussion between two men was overheard by pub owner Gordon Green. One gentleman argued that over a “significant distance across country,” a man could equal any horse. Green took this discussion to the public to challenge this claim, thus creating the marathon.

While traditional marathons are run on paved roads, this race takes place on rougher terrain, more like an American cross country event. The race starts in the town center then continues over hilly farm tracks, forests, footpaths, and open moorland. Cyclists were first allowed to compete in the race in 1985, which saw U.S. ladies’ champion cyclist Jacquie Phelan come very close to winning the race. Four years later, a British cyclist beat a horse by three minutes, becoming the first human to beat a horse in the race. (It is uncertain if they stopped allowing cyclists to race after that.)

The silver anniversary race in 2004 finally saw a human champion on foot, when Huw Lobb finished in 2 hours, 5 minutes, and 19 seconds. Lobb won the prize of &#163 25,000 ($31,786.40 USD), a jackpot that continued to grow &#163 1,000 every year after the first race that a human failed to win. Since then, only one other man has won the race–Florian Holzinger by 11 minutes in 2007

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