When Humans Race Horses in a Marathon, Who Wins?

Leave it to a couple of barflies to come up with an event as baffling as the Man vs. Horse Marathon. The idea was hatched in the back bar of the Neuadd Arms Hotel in Llanwrtyd Wells, England, where the owner overheard his guests' heated discussion about whether a man could beat a horse in a distance challenge, and decided to put it to the test.

Participants of the Man vs. Horse Marathon.

Never Tell Me The Odds

The mountainous 22-mile event has taken place every year since 1980. While you might expect the horses to win every year, two humans have defied the odds. Human runner Huw Lobb beat the lead horse for the first time in 2004, and Florian Holzinger repeated Lobb's achievement in 2007. Since then, it's been all horse.

The reason humans even have a chance comes down to evolution. Many scientists believe we evolved to be persistent hunters that chased animals across the savanna until they collapsed. Our ability to lose heat through sweat is just one adaptation that gives us a leg up on horses and other quadrupeds, who pant to expel heat but have trouble doing so at top speeds. That's likely the reason humans have been able to win twice: those victories took place on hot days.

Human vs. Horse Marathon

Written by Curiosity Staff June 6, 2016

Curiosity uses cookies to improve site performance, for analytics and for advertising. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies, our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.