Runner beats horse in Man v Horse race

Ricky Lightfoot

by Trail Running staff |

Ricky Lightfoot has become the first runner for 15 years to beat the horse at the annual Whole Earth Man V Horse trail race in Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales.

Lightfoot achieved what has been done only twice before in the 41 years of the race by covering the 22 challenging miles in two hours 22 minutes 23 seconds. Equine challengers filled the next three places and first among these was Lane House Boy ridden by Kim Alman, which was two minutes one second behind.

He was one of 1200 runners and 60 horses and riders to take part in the event in Powys last Saturday, taking on rugged terrain including bogs and steep hills. Victoria Nealon was first woman in 2:56:49.

"It's great to win the event and beat the horse," he told BBC News. "I called my partner and said: 'I beat the horse'. And she said: 'You're joking?'."

The Salomon-sponsored runner is a two-time winner of the Three Peaks Fell Race and has represented Britain at the World Mountain Running Long Distance Championships.

The last human winner was Florien Holtinger in 2007. Huw Lobb became the first winner in 2004, picking up a £25,000 prize after the unclaimed prize bonus for beating the horse had been increased by £1000 each year. This year's prize was just £3500, given a change since then in the structure.

Heather Fell, a GB Olympic medallist in modern pentathlon finished second woman and said: "I had zero expectations of making it on the podium which was just the best feeling. What a historic year to take part when the man finally beats the horse after so many years! It was an incredible experience with a great community feel and so unusual to run against horses – unlike anything I’ve ever done before. The first time you hear the galloping hooves behind you, your heart starts thudding. It was a great atmosphere, from the race marshals, competitors and lots of spectators; everyone was full of cheer and there was a great sense of camaraderie. Every season seemed to hit us and the terrain was very varied – I’ve never run quite so many hills. My legs are totally ruined, but I’ve been left with a huge smile on my face."

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