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Last Updated: Saturday, 7 June, 2003, 15:36 GMT 16:36 UK
Four legs beat two again
Robyn Petrie-Ritchie
Winning team : Robyn Petrie-Ritchie and her horse

Two legs have again lost out to four in one of Wales' most peculiar race events.

Hundreds of spectators turned out to see 378 runners try and beat their equine opponents in the annual Man v Horse Marathon in mid Wales.

The 22-mile race held in the tiny town of Llanwrtyd Wells attracts athletes from across the United Kingdom every year.

This year's event also pulled in 31 horses and riders - more than the Derby, which was also being held on Saturday.

No man has ever beaten the leading horse in the 24 years the event has been held, and this year the 24,000 prize - which has accumulated over the years - again went unclaimed.

The cash remains the biggest unclaimed prize in British athletics.

First to cross the line was Irish horse Druimguiga Shemal, ridden by Robyn Petrie-Ritchie, from Devon.

Ms Petrie-Ritchie and her horse - who were last year's winners - covered the course in two hours and two minutes.

Mark Croasdale
Mark Croasdale got second best again
The first human to cross the line - just 15 minutes later - was Royal Marine Mark Croasdale from Lancaster, who finished in two hours and 17 minutes.

His performance was nowhere near as good as that of 2002, when he finished just a minute behind the first horse.

Mr Croasdale - who has just returned from serving in the Gulf - said he was disappointed but determined to do better again next year, when the race celebrates its Silver Jubilee.

"Because I've been away, I haven't been able to train as hard as I had hoped," said the 38-year-old, whose wife Julie and four children watched him run.

"I was able to train to a certain degree on the ship, because I had a treadmill, but I wasn't able to get the long hours in that I needed, so effectively I've not trained properly since about last October.

Mr Croasdale - who also led the winning relay team in the race, the Croasdale Crusaders - said he was detemined to return next year to fight for the 25,000 on offer.

Despite not beating a horse to the finish, Mr Croasdale and his relay team took home a total of 1,200 - as the first human and relay team runners up get 600 a piece.

runners and riders
More than 300 athletes took on the challenge
Bookmaker William Hill had been offering odds of 20/1 that the horses would be beaten this year.

Company spokesman Graham Sharpe said: "I'm afraid it was good news for the bookies again this time, but I think the warm conditions made the going good for the horses and bad for the runners."

Mr Sharpe said major celebrations were planned for the 2003 event - the 25th anniversary - which takes place on 12 June.

"This race is now so popular it has the potential to become an international event," he said.

International flavour

A special trophy was given out this year in memory of one of the UK's best-loved eccentrics Screaming Lord Sutch, who was the official starter of the race until his death in 1999.

The Lord Sutch Memorial Trophy - a specially created top hat and 250 prize - was presented to the winner of a head-to-head showdown between a specially nominated runner and one of the horses.

It was presented by former madam and author Cynthia Payne.

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




SEE ALSO:
Twenty seek Derby glory
06 Jun 03  |  Horse Racing
Horse triumphs over man again
13 Oct 01  |  Wales
Final farewell to Lord Sutch
29 Jun 99  |  Politics


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