Man V Horse - HOW IT STARTED.
Chatting over a pint one night, Neuadd Arms landlord Gordon Green overheard two men discussing the relative merits of man and horse. After several pints one was brave (or foolish!) enough to suggest that over a significant distance across country, man was equal to any horse. After several more pints, the inevitable challenge was made, at which point Gordon decided that rather than this be a private argument, it should be put to test in full public view. This is exactly what has happened every year since then.
It transpires that there is a historic precedent for this event. Early in the 18th century, one Guto NythBran is reported to have raced against a horse in Cardiganshire and won the race. (Incidentally, we would strongly advise all wives, husbands or lovers to refrain from slapping their loved ones on the back should he or she win the race, since this is how poor Guto met his untimely death after one such race!) The actual pitting of man against horse in a marathon, though, appears to be unique to the annual event in Llanwrtyd Wells. The first race took place in June 1980. In 1982 the course was changed to provide a more even match between horse and runner that year, under extremely hot conditions, the horse beat runner Paul Brownson by only 4 minutes!
In 1985 mountain bikes were introduced to the race and Jacqui Phelan, US Ladies Champion, was just minutes behind the first horse. In 1985 Tim Gould, Cycles Peugeot UK, beat the horse by nearly 3 minutes. This was the first time the winning horse had been beating by a mountain cyclist and Tim won £5,000 from William Hill for his fine achievement. The bookies also had to pay out a bonus in 1995 and 1996 when a relay team came home ahead of the first horse.
Below are the race winners since the 1st year of William Hill Sponsorship of the race (1987).
1987(1st year of William Hill Sponsorship.
1st Equal Horse/Rider: Bill George (Mando)
Ray Jenkins (The Doid) 1h 32mins.
1st Equal Runners: Dic Evans
Paul Wheeler 1h 57mins.
1st Mountain Cyclist: Vince Edwards 2h 06mins.
1st Horse:/Rider John Davies (Jenny) 1h 47mins.
1st Mountain Cyclist: Tim Gould 1h 57mins.
1st Runner: Mark Croasdale 2h 08mins.
1989 (Biker collected £5,000 - 1st to beat horse)
1st Cyclist: Tim Gould 1h 51mins.
1st Horse/Rider: Ray Jenkins (The Doid) 1h 54mins.
1st Runner: Gwyn Williams 2h 07mins.
1st Equal Horse/Rider: Ray Jenkins (The Doid)
Chris Powell (Elkie) 1h 36mins.
1st Mountain Cyclist: Tim Davies 1h 51mins.
1st Runner: Mark Croasdale 1h 58mins.
1st Horse/Rider: Zoe Jennings (Hussar) 1h 30mins.
1st Mountain Cyclist: Barrie Clarke 1h 38mins.
1st Runner: Mark Croasdale 2h 05mins.
1st Horse/Rider: Zoe Jennings (Hussar) 1h 38mins.
1st Mountain Cyclist: Paul Hinton 1h 32 mins.
1st Runner: Derek Green 2h 09mins
1st Mountain Cyclist: Barrie Clarke 1h 45mins.
1st Horse/Rider: John Hudson 1h 47mins.
1st Runner: Robin Bergstrand 2h 03mins.
1994(No Mountain Cyclists In Race)
1st Horse/Rider: Celia Tymons (Eskalabar) 1h 52mins.
1st Runner: Mark Croasdale 2h 09mins.
1995(Relay team collected £2,000 For Beating Horse)
1st Relay Team: Croasdale's Crusaders Relay Team 1h 53mins.
1st Horse/Rider: Ken Mapp (Ahmaar) 1h 57mins.
1st Runner: Paul Cadwallader 2h 06mins.
1st Relay Team: Croadale's Crusaders Realy Team 1h 54mins.
1st Horse/Rider: Ken Mapp (Ahmaar) 1h 57mins.
1st Runner: Mark Palmer 2h 12mins.
1st Horse/Rider: Megan Lewis 1h 52mins.
1st Relay Team: Croasdale's Crusaders Relay Team 1h 56mins.
1st Runner: Paul Cadwallader 2h 09mins.
1st Horse/Rider: Jackie Gilmore (Ruama) 1h 46mins.
1st Relay Team: Croasdale's Crusaders Relay Team 2h 1min.
1st Runner: Stuart Major 2h 14mins.
1999(Mountain Bike Fun Ride Brought In - Uncompetitive)
1st Horse/Rider: Jackie Gilmore (Ruama) 1h 58mins.
1st Relay Team: Croasdale's Crusaders Relay Team 2h 01 min.
1st Runner: Mark Palmer 2h 16mins.
Unforaunately, due to an anomaly in the Road Traffic Act which prohibits mountain bikes from racing on bridle paths (ironically no such exclusion applies to motorbikes!) the race has been unable to include a competitive mountain bike section since 1993.
A non-competitive, yet nonetheless testing, mountain bike fun ride was included in 1999. It is hoped that the necessary amendment will be made to the law in time to enable the bikes to compete next year. If not it is probable that another fun ride will be included.
PRIZE MONEY IS AWARDED TO THE WINNING RUNNERS, RELAY TEAMS AND RIDERS. THE BONUS PAYMENT TO THE 1ST RUNNER TO BEAT THE 1ST HORSE CURRENTLY STANDS AT £21,000 - IT COULD BE YOU, BUT NOT IF YOU DON'T ENTER THE RACE.
IF YOU DON'T FEEL UP TO THE FULL 22 MILES OF THE RACE WHY NOT MAKE UP A 3 PERSON RELAY TEAM AND HAVE A GO - YOU DEFINITELY WILL ENJOY IT AND EVERY RUNNER COMES AWAY HAVING HAD A FREE PASTA DINNER AND RECEIVED A FREE £5 WILLIAM HILL BET PLUS AN ATTRACTIVE RACE MEMENTO.