Dear Julius, please let me present you with your arse, regards Man Vs Horse.Read more: Man Vs Horse
I love a run, sometimes I like to race and hilly trails are where I’m at my happiest. I also like races with a twist; let’s face it your average town 10k isn’t really very exciting.
In comes Man Vs Horse run by Green Events. The event started in 1980 so has a long history. It’s pretty simple, it’s a race between runners and horse riders.
Unsurprisingly Horses normally win with only four runners to have ever beaten the horses.
Being Wales the knobbly and challenging course is often a boggy slog fest but, at the start of June, and with recent drier springs, conditions can be completely different.
I’ve run it before in 2018, it was a dry year but not that hot; I think conditions were seen as very good. It was longer then and managed to run the 24 miles in 4h10m. I’d forgotten my claims that I’d not run it again as was too tough and, when entries opened, back in January I entered the 2023 race.
In it’s current form (i.e. what it was like on Saturday this year) it’s a 21 mile multi terrain running race that sets off from Llanwrtyd Wells at 11am. Horse riders set off at 11:15.
Typically I set off too quickly and this year was a scorcher, dry hot and incredibly muggy; not long in I slowed down.
After taking the lanes out of town the route hits the trails after 2 miles and runners route splits from the horse route, at just over 4 mile they converge. When I ran before the horses were already almost caught up, this year nothing; no sounds of hoofs pounding along behind me… turns out the heat is just as, if not more, taxing for horses. I didn’t see the first place horse until round mile 6 (I was never going to beat the horse let’s be clear).
As mentioned you hear the horses coming, that is really exhilarating, it’s also a little unnerving to have to share an often rather narrow trail with a horse. Runners are told to keep to the right and horses overtake on the left.
What I particularly love is how horses are often less quick on the descent; I love hammering down hills so really enjoyed jostling for position (once the initial wave of serious horses passed). I’d get overtaken on the flats and climbs but then bomb it pass on the downhill. One rather spirited rider took great pleasure in jovially shouting “Eat my dust!!” to me as we hit one of the last long extended climbs (no I didn’t catch them again)
I haven’t had a weekend break alone for years, it’s not a big sob story but I usually do things with other people. This time I was flying solo and booked a lovely dog friendly studio called Dolfan Barn Studio in Beulah, Powys. It was only a few miles away from the race so perfect.
The hosts, Gill and Simon, were wonderful and it was such a lovely place with tons of room in a beautiful setting. I hope to make it a regular escape… maybe I’ll go back next year!!