Two thousand five hundred years ago, brave Greek soldiers fought a several times larger Persian army on the field of Marathon and won the battle. Legend has it that one man ran 42 km to deliver the good news to Athens, told everyone they had won and dropped dead from exhaustion. This remarkable event immortalized by the famous Marathon race became a regular part of the modern Olympics.
However, there is a different kind of marathon which, besides running and its name, has nothing to do with the previously mentioned race. In this race, it is humans vs. horses!
It Is Spreading
It may be hard to imagine, but the audience for the sport is growing. And now, there are two events of this type, one held near Loch Ness lake in Scotland, and the other in New Zealand. Bookkeepers have also noted interest in the sport and began including the race in betting offers. For example, Betway has sponsored plenty of UK-based sporting events, including horse racing, and it’s no surprise that the Betway offer includes odds for horse racing events, like the one in Cheltenham.
Some races attracted over 50 horses and 500 runners, so it is by no means a small event. So, if you are a passionate jogger and you have wondered whether you could beat a horse in a race, there is actually a possibility to do it. And the prize for winning as a runner in 2019 race is 3000 pounds!
How Did It Start and What Exactly Is It?
And its origin is also completely different from the original race, having little to do with some heroic feat. Instead, it started in a small Welsh town Llanwrtyd Wells after a local Gordon Green overheard a tavern debate between two men in a pub whether a man could beat a horse in a race. One man claimed that a human could beat a horse over long distances as, in his opinion, humans had better stamina.
Surprisingly, this conversation inspired Gordon to organize the first race with large prize money for any runner who could beat a man on horseback. And the prize piles up for every year a horse wins. Being 35 km long, the race itself is a tad shorter than the real marathon, albeit possibly harder since it is run over uneven terrain with even some streams in the way. It is organized every June, and both track length and terrain change each time, so competitors can expect all types of surprises. The race has also evolved during the years. Since 2014, competitors are assigned tags which measure their time electronically, effectively elevating level and seriousness of the race.
So, Who Runs Faster… and Longer?
If you still have doubts about who actually is a better racer, a horse or a human, this competition proved that a man can do little against a horse. Since 1980, when the event occurred for the first time, humans have won two races, a remarkable feat in itself. Those two wins occurred in 2004 and 2007 when racers Huw Lobb and Florian Holzinger beat four-legged animals by 2 and 11 minutes, respectively. Luckily for them, the weather was hot on those events and, since horses heat up faster, it allowed them to triumph.
Anyhow, these guys deserve some sort of a medal, as a vast majority of us cannot even come close to running 35 km, let alone do it faster than a horse. In 1985, cyclists were also allowed to compete in the race, and they lost by a small margin. But in 1989, a cyclist won the race, which was the first time in history that a human defeated a horse in a race.