So it’s the final day of the EPL January 2012 transfer window and it looks like it’s going to pass by without so much as a desperate last minute swap so here’s something else to fill the gap – a return to checking out some of the more traditional of British sporting traditions.
The Man vs Horse race is possibly one of the more sensible events when compared to cheese rolling and shin kicking and it’s not that old either. It’s relative youth – it dates from 1980 – suggests that the British are still capable of dreaming up silly sporting challenges.
As with some of the best ideas, it emerged from a pub/hotel called the Neuadd Arms in Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales when the landlord, Gordon Green, overheard a couple of customers discussing whether, over a certain distance, a man could beat a horse across country.
Mr. Green immediately got to work organising an event which would prove the case one way or another and the Man vs Horse was born. It’s set over a distance of 22 miles just outside the Welsh town and does include a couple of miles of tarmac. As one might expect, the horses almost always win and when a runner does it’s a moment of some note. Aside from the strength issues, the horses also run a slightly different route to help them avoid some of the trickier descents.
Of the 32 events run so far only two have been won by runners; Huw Lobb was the first in 2004, followed by Florian Holzinger in 2007. Another runner, Martin Cox, won in 2009 but some apparent unannounced rule changes meant that the first horse was given the victory to much derision and anger.
Cyclists were allowed to compete in 1985 and Tim Gould, one of the foremost riders of the early years of mountain biking in the U.K. won in 1989. Since 1993 cyclists have not been able to compete due to local laws keeping them of the paths and one may cynically wonder if the’ horsey’ set has had something to do with that.
Whatever, it’s a great event and one to put on your bucket list!