A Human Has Won The Man Vs Horse Race, Showing The Majestic Jerks Who Is Boss

The competition's origins are just as stupid as you'd imagine.


James Felton

Senior Staff Writer

clockJun 16 2022, 13:21 UTC
A horse gallops with a jockey on its back
Nice try, horsey. Image credit: Olga_i/

A human has won the annual Man vs Horse race for only the third time in the competition's existence. Thirty-seven-year-old Ricky Lightfoot managed to beat 1,000 fellow runners and 50 horses to take the trophy, finishing the course in 2 hours, 22 minutes, and 23 seconds. 


Lightfoot won £3,500 for his efforts, a prize that surely would have been wasted on a horse with no concept of currency.

There have only been three human winners of the competition since it began in 1980. The idea for the race came, as you might expect, from a drunken argument in a pub. Landlord of the Neuadd Arms in Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales, overheard two customers arguing (as you do) over the benefits of people vs the benefits of horses. 

After a few more pints, as was inevitable, one of the men proclaimed that over a long distance people could equal the performance of any horse. Not satisfied with mere speculation, the landlord – Gordon Green – decided that there should be a public competition where this slurred theory could be tested. Every year since then – bar a few years where the event was canceled due to the pandemic – people have raced against horses in a constant battle for supremacy.

In all but three years they have thrashed us. It took 24 years, and a slight alteration of the course to make it fairer on humans, before we had our first human winner in 2004. Three years later, another human took the title, but it would be another 15 years before Lightfoot won on behalf of humanity once more, beating the fastest horse by two minutes.


Following the race, Lightfoot told the BBC winning was "pretty good, like". The firefighter, who said he had been confident he could give the horse a good race, added that his partner was surprised by the win.

"I called my partner and said: 'I beat the horse'. And she said: 'You're joking?'," Lightfoot told the BBC. "And I said: 'No, I did.' She was like, 'oh my God!'"

No quote was taken from the loser horse.

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