British runner Ricky Lightfoot harnessed his beast mode to win the Man v Horse marathon across 22 miles of Welsh countryside, becoming the first person to finish ahead of the animal in 15 years at the annual event.
The aptly named Lightfoot, 37, crossed the line in 2 hours, 22 minutes and 23 seconds on Saturday to edge out Lane House Boy, ridden by Kim Alman, who was two minutes and one second behind.
It was only the third time in the event’s 41-year history that a runner had defeated the horse, with Lightfoot emulating Florien Holtinger, who achieved the feat in 2007, and Huw Lobb, who triumphed three years earlier.
The marathon event in Llanwrtyd Wells pitched 1,200 runners against a team of 60 horses and riders over 35 kilometres of rugged terrain, including steep hills.
Trail running and World Long Distance Mountain Running Challenge medalist Lightfoot collected a prize of £3,500 (US$4,265) for his victory and joked about entering the Grand National next.
“I thought I could give the horse a good race,” Lightfoot told the BBC, adding he was confident despite being awake for 29 hours before the event after he flew in from Tenerife.
“It would be great if I could win the Grand National. I’ve never rode a horse in my life. I once rode a donkey at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, though.”
The endurance race came into existence in 1980 after a bet in the Neaudd Arms – the pub which is still the starting point for the marathon – after two locals argued over whether man could beat a horse in a long-distance race.
The race, which has since attracted widespread following, made its return this year after being halted owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and will be back in 2023 where the horses will aim to establish their dominance again.