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Man vs. Horse Marathon

The Man vs. Horse Marathon is a sport where runners and horse riders compete against each other. The course is about 22 miles (35 km) long. The event has been held annually in June since 1980.

It all began when Gordon Green, the local landlord, overheard a conversation between two men in his local pub in Wales. In the conversation a man suggested that over a significant distance across country, man was equal to any horse. After the heated discussion, Green decided to organize the first-ever Man vs. Horse event.

Since then, it has become an annual fixture in Neuadd Arms in Llanwrtyd Wells.

The race starts in a long, slow climb with knee-deep bogs and river crossings guaranteeing that the runners are out of breath and muddy within the course of two miles. The runners start fifteen-minute before the horses start galloping, mostly for safety reasons. Times are adjusted at the end to see who covered the course in the quickest time. Halfway through the race, horses will have a “vet check” making sure they’re still healthy and well for the race.

Ann King was the first woman to join the Man versus Horse Marathon in 1981. By 1985, they allowed cyclists to compete. In 1989, Tim Gould on a bicycle beat the first horse - it was the first race that a human beat the horse.

racing at sunsetracing at sunset

The first time a runner beat the horses was in 2004, the 25th race. Huw Lobb completed the course in 2 hours, 5 minutes and 19 seconds, claiming the £25,000 prize money. The prize money had been growing by £1,000 each every year from the race’s inauguration. Just three years later, another runner, Florian Holzinger, also beat the first horse.

A controversy arose in the 2009 race when the organizers deducted the time spent during the “vet checks” from horses. The organizers of the event during that time said that the time spent in “vet check” had always been deducted. Martin Cox, the fastest runner didn't accept his award in protest of the organizers' decision. After the other competitors protested against it, the organizers returned to the previous rules.

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