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Run and Ride through the welsh green hell

Report of 23rd Man versus Horse, 18/05/2002                                 german version
Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys, Wales
roughly 22 miles (35,4K) and around 3000 feet of height
This race is exceptional in every way. As the title anticipates competitors with two and four legs take part. Adding to this the terrain - media calls it "gruelling welsh" - makes it becoming a real adventure. 3000 feet of height difference one has to overcome, and the paths - as long as there are any - offer a great variety, particularly when it has been raining for days before the race.

Years before I watched the race when on holiday and I was all excited. Since then it didn't get out of my mind. My wife Angelika has been concerned all the time ("you will ruin your knees forever"). But time has come. And Angelika supported me. On may 18th, 2002 I was part of the race.
more information at the official website and the tourist site  
- to enlarge the photos just click on them -



Around 300 individual runners positioned at the start at 11 am, 
with additional 64 relay teams to run the route by 3 legs.

This is the start of the special Lord Sutch Memorial Challenge slightly ahead of the main field. One runner versus one rider which both were invited to participate in memory of Lord Sutch who died in 1999. He was the official starter of the race and a familiar figure at the Man versus Horse.

The runners go off 15 minutes before the horses to assure 
that the unequally heavy competitors don't tread on the other's feet too early.

23.000 is the cash bonus for the runner who beats the fastest horse. Mark Croasdale came closest to this two years ago with a difference of just two minutes. He is running again today.

Today's number of 36 horses stands for a record participation. At the start they move on relatively comfortably. 28 of them will arrive at the finish.

A dangerous situation happenend at the steep descend to  Abergwesyn (7m), when a runaway horse gallopped down to the valley, overtaking many runners on a narrow path. Luckily nobody was injured and the horse was caught at the ford.

After 40 minutes these four-leggeds overtook me and had made up for the 15 minutes they started later. The leading horses were already gone as there was a detour for them on the route before.

Horses do sweat, too. The long ascend from 600 to 1200 height feet shows traces at their skin as well. Do they have the same fun as riders and runners have? I guess, yes they have.

At Abergwesyn runners come down to the valley and get  refreshment. This is the 2nd river crossing, this time wider, but less deep. After little more than 7 miles here is the relay changeover point and the feeding station (sadly just water).

Here runners are already on the 3rd leg (around 16 miles) which starts right away with a long and arduous ascend. Time enough for a view over the endless green and lovely welsh countryside. Meanwhile it even stopped raining.

My supporters waited photographing at the 19 miles point. Here runners can already watch the town at the horizon, another reason to smile Sheila Allan (F44) has. But the main reason is her performance. She finishes 2nd of all women at 2:51:56.

At the same point two still fairly energetic runners pass. They will finish 6th and 7th overall. Nr. 247 Jim Thorn, 2:34:38.
Favourite Mark Croasdale stopped here complety dehydrated and frustrated after going wrong twice. He asked my supporters for emergency drink and food, took some chocolate but obviously surrendered finally.

On the quite often narrow paths runners and riders get together without any trouble, another example of british considerateness.   Philip Hurst (68) und Chris Rendle (91) arrive at place 11 und 12 among the couples (2:24:55 und 2:24:58).

Wearing number 8 the finish relay runner is going to be first of all female relay teams, Headington Launching Ladies 

The final deep highlight was offered just before the finish line. Later I discovered that the neighbouring bridge was a permitted option. Runners ahead crossed the torrential floods fearlessly 
and so did I - unable to swim ..
Nr. 337 Jonathan Pursey, 89. M, 3:28:10, is enjoying it 
while Nr. 146 Lew Badger, 87. M, 3:28:02, is still paddling.

The meadow finish: Very kind reception by compassionate marshals, a cheering crowd and a well informed speaker. As a memento we got a nice brass showing rider and runner. The ladies of the WI were very busy producing sandwiches and there was even a professional massage available.

The top 9 finishers were four-leggeds. The winner's time was  2:02:23 what proves it was no day to set a record time.

The first individual runner, James McQueen of Eryri Harriers,   came in 16 minutes later. The first relay team was just two minutes ahead of him. The invited favourite challenger, Mark Croasdale who finished the London Marathon 23rd at 2:21 disappointed and capitulated. The fastest woman, Ruth Pickvance (F40) of Swansea Harriers, was overtaken by only 7 men, finishing at 2:38:58!

Among individual runners the proportion of surrenders was rather high. 225 of around 300 who started appeared at the finish. More than few looked like the muddy chap on the photo. The route was arranged perfectly by the forces of nature. There were nice longish parts with deep mud (I talked to an adult fellow runner who admitted: " I love the mud."), often the path had changed into a mountain brook and we soon got accustomed to crossing large puddles at the shortest way possible. To these conditions hooves were suited a little better in the end.

complete result list  article in the Western Mail




Your reporter: 
before the start and close to the finish (mile 19)

Uli Sauer, Ruhrrunner Witten, 86. M, 3:27:53

Many thanks to the organizers and the friendliest marshals ever. 
complete result list  article in the Western Mail  more stories



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