ONE of the world’s most bizarre yet beloved sporting events takes place in Powys this weekend, when more than 1,000 runners will try to beat a horse in a race.

The iconic Man v Horse race will take place in and around the hills of Llanwrtyd Wells on Saturday, June 10.

The event pits man/woman against beast, with over 1,000 runners taking on 60 horses and riders over 21-22 miles of punishingly steep and unforgiving terrain, on the roads and in the hills, bogs and forestry tracks surrounding the UK’s smallest town.

Bob Greenhough, of madcap organisers Green Events, said that around 650 solo runners have entered this year, plus 150 relay teams (three runners per team) and 60 horses.

County Times:  Ricky Lightfoot on his way to last year's victory - he was just the third runner to win the race in its 41-year history Ricky Lightfoot on his way to last year's victory - he was just the third runner to win the race in its 41-year history (Image: None)

The runners will take on a 21.11-mile course which includes a brutal total ascent of 4,097 feet, while the course for the horses and riders is slightly longer at 22.04 miles and slightly higher, with 4,186ft of ascent.

For relay teams the course will be split into three legs of 7.38 miles (1,458ft ascent), 7.23miles (1,413ft ascent) and 6.50 miles (1,226ft ascent).

“We are looking forward to yet another Man v Horse race with hopes it will all go well,” said Bob, who is overseeing the 42nd edition of the epic event.

“We’re looking forward to seeing our small town for a short time being filled with eager competitors and spectators. Generally, for the organising committee members, there is a feeling of excitement with just a touch of stress.

“There are still many jobs to be done or finalised and the route is rechecked and cleared where necessary. The finish field and other areas are yet to be arranged but gradually it is all taking shape.

“Thankfully, we have the support of so many of our community who will be out marshalling on Saturday; without them or local landowners we would not be able to run this great event.

“Nor without the group of ladies from Merched y Bont who will be busy with the catering for competitors at the end of the race.

“Oh and Whole Earth, our sponsors once more, return to see will it be a second year in a row for the humans to prevail.”


Bob added: “Sadly, Dic Evans, our usual finish field commentator is unwell and will not be in action this year. Thankfully, Christian Prynne has stepped into his shoes and will be at the finish providing the crowd with information as runners complete the event.”

The return of Man v Horse last year, following a Covid-ravaged 2020 and 2021, saw 1,200 runners battle against a team of 60 horses and riders.

The legend of one of the most quirky sporting events anywhere on the planet was only heightened when a human won the race for just the third time.

Ricky Lightfoot was the first runner home, in two hours, 22 minutes, 23 seconds – beating the first horse home by two minutes and one second.

The 37-year-old Cumbria firefighter took home the coveted title of beating the horse – something that has only been done three times in the 41 races that have been held since the inaugural one in 1980.

Huw Lobb was the first human winner of the race in 2004 – on the event’s 25th anniversary – followed by Florian Holzinger in 2007.

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The quirky event began in June 1980 following a heated chat in the back bar of Llanwrtyd’s Neuadd Arms Hotel. Then landlord, Gordon Green, overheard two men discussing the relative merits of men and horses running over mountainous terrain and whether a man could actually win in a race.

Gordon decided to put it to the test. And so began Green Events and its first, longest standing and now internationally acclaimed event, Man v Horse.

The course was amended in 1982 to provide a more even match, resulting year on year in very close finishes – sometimes with the horse winning by only a few seconds.

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In 2018, for example, Peter Davies on Ronnie beat Joe Dale by a mere 23 seconds, while in 2008 John Macfarlane was pipped to the finish line by 30 seconds by Geoffrey Allen on Dukes Touch of Fun.

The escalating jackpot for a runner who beats the first horse and rider, which now starts at £500 and increases by £500 each year the event takes place until it is won, stands at a mere £500 for 2023, following Lightfoot’s victory last year.

To put Lobb’s achievement into perspective – being the first human champion after the race had been going a quarter of a century – he took home a £25,000 jackpot.

Last year, Cypriot Eros Adamides made history by becoming the first blind competitor to enter the race.