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Saturday, 18 May, 2002, 13:57 GMT 14:57 UK
Horse triumphs over man
Mark Croasdale and horse graphic
Mark Croasdale failed to become the first human winner
A London Marathon runner has failed in his attempt to win the Man Versus Horse race in mid Wales.

No human has ever defeated a horse in the 23-year history of the challenge around Llanwrtyd Wells.

This is the last great challenge in athletics with a massive cash incentive for the first to achieve it

Graham Sharpe of William Hill

But bookmakers William Hill had cut the odds against Mark Croasdale winning from 33-1 to 10-1 after his marathon warm-up, in which he came 23rd.

The former Royal Marine from Lancaster, 37, holds the record for coming closest to winning the prize - finishing just a minute behind a horse in 2000.

He stood to win 23,000 - the biggest unclaimed prize in British athletics.

Twenty horses and riders took on up to 300 human runners and 50 relay teams in the 22-mile race.

It takes place in gruelling terrain in the countryside around the smallest town in Britain.

Mark Croasdale
Mark Croasdale is a marathon specialist

The weather prevented a fast time, with the first horse finishing shortly after the two-hour mark.

Three horses crossed the finishing line some 15 minutes before the first runner.

The event was a favourite with one of Britain's best-loved eccentrics - the late Screaming Lord Sutch - who was the official starter until his death in 1999.

Graham Sharpe, spokesman for William Hill said: "This is the last great challenge in athletics with a massive cash incentive for the first to achieve it."

Each year the prize money is increased by 1,000, and this year's event attracted entries from as far afield as Australia and America.

Lord Sutch
The late Lord Sutch was a fan of the race

Horse and man have challenged each other since 1989 over a gruelling 22-mile course which covers hills, farm tracks, streams, bogs and forests.

The race was inspired by an 18th century tale of Guto Nyth Bran, who was reported to have raced against a horse in Cardiganshire and won.

Mark Croasdale was part of a winning relay team which beat the first horse home at Llanwrtyd Wells last year

But the big prize - increased to 24,000 next year - for the first individual runner to beat a horse remains so far untouched.

See also:

13 Oct 01 | Wales
Horse triumphs over man again
29 Jun 99 | Politics
Final farewell to Lord Sutch
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