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British endurance runner wins 22-mile race against horse

CNN logo CNN 6/13/2022 Sana Noor Haq

It’s one of the ultimate tests of man against beast and over the weekend a Briton got the better or his four-legged rival to cross the finish line first and win the Whole Earth Man V Horse race in Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales on Saturday.

Ricky Lightfoot, who is a 37-year-old firefighter from the village of Dearham in Cumbria, in north west England became only the third person to claim victory in the history of the race, in which runners are pitted against horses to see who can outrun the other.

Completing the 22-mile trail with a time of 2:22:23, Lightfoot is also the first runner to have won the competition in 15 years after Florien Holtinger triumphed in 2007, according to a statement from the event’s organizers.

© Provided by CNN Runners compete against horses and their riders at the race on Saturday, which was staged after a two-year absence due to the coronavirus pandemic. - Gareth Everett/Huw Evans Picture Agency

The competition was established in the 1980s, after two people at the local Neaudd Arms pub bet on whether a man could defeat a horse in a long-distance race.

In 2004, Huw Lobb became the first runner to win the event when he beat the fastest horse in 2:05:00, according to the official event website.

A group of 1,200 runners competed against 60 horses and riders at the event on June 11, which took place along the cragged hills and muddy terrain of the Welsh countryside.

Lane House Boy came second after Lightfoot with rider Kim Alman, finishing with a time of 2:24:24.

© Provided by CNN Ricky Lightfoot stands with his medal after claiming victory. - Gareth Everett/Huw Evans Picture Agency

Lightfoot’s stunning performance was even more remarkable given he had been awake since 6 a.m. BST (1 a.m. ET) on Friday in order to fly from Tenerife, Spain to Manchester, UK.

He arrived in Wales at 4 a.m. BST (11 p.m. EST) before travelling to Llanwrtyd Wells on Saturday, just two hours before the race began.

“I am chuffed to have won Whole Earth Man V Horse,” Lightfoot told CNN via email on Monday.

“I’d heard about the two previous winners Huw Lobb and Florien Holtinger, and am delighted to now count myself amongst only three people to have ever beaten the horse.

“It was great to compete in such a legendary, unique race that was all started from a conversation in a local pub. I was awake for 29 hours before the race and had to drive five hours home afterwards, so needless to say I was shattered, but it was worth it,” he added.

A keen endurance runner, Lightfoot previously won the Zegama-Aizkorri race in Spain in 2009.

Three years later he clinched victory after running his first ultramarathon at the Hammer Trail in Denmark, before winning three more endurance trails across Wales, Réunion Island and South Africa in 2013.

In 2014 he came first at the Dodo Trail in Mauritius, and won the Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira the year after.

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