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article of WESTERN MAIL 20/05/02, by Helen Morgan, photos byn Trevor Waters

Horse triumphs over man in annual 22-mile showdown
Mid-Wales: Four legs beat two to win £ 23,000 prize

HOPES of a single runner defeating a four-legged opponent in the annual "man versus horse" 22-mile race were dashed on Saturday when beast pipped man to the post.

Thirty-five horses and riders took on some 300 people and 60 relay teams in the gruelling race in Llanwrtyd Wells in Mid Wales.

No solo human runner has ever triumphed over a horse in the competition but the money had been on Royal Marine Mark Croasdale, who had warmed up by running the London Marathon and finishing 23rd.

Croasdale, of Swansea, held the record for coming closest to winning the event, being just a minute behind a horse in 2000. And following his decision to run this year, bookmakers William Hill slashed the odds of a runner beating the horses and riders from 33-1 to 10-1.

However, a horse named Druimghigha Shemal, ridden by Robyn Petrie-Ritchie, galloped in to take the £23,000 first prize with a time of two hours, two minutes and 23 seconds.

A relay team called Croasdale’s Crusaders came in at two hours, 16 minutes and 50 seconds, while the first individual runner was James McQueen (photo left) who clocked in at two hours, 18 minutes and 52 seconds.

Croasdale trailed in with a disappointing time of two hours, 27 minutes and 44 seconds after going the wrong way on the course.

An event organiser said, "He was very upset that he didn't do his best but he loves the course and will come back next year to try again."

The race has been held annually for more than 20 years and each year the prize increases by £1,000.


note: The cash bonus of £ 23,000 was to win only by the first runner who beats the fastest horse. The winning rider had to content herself with £ 350, the same amount as the first individual runner received. There is no finish time by Mark Croasdale to be found in the official results. He obviously gave up. (U. Sauer)

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