Man v Horse

Monday 12th June 2017

Man v Horse

Well done to Kevin Bramhill who finished 38th in the Man v Horse run in Wales:

"I am probably one of the slowest members of Phoenix judging by my rare Wednesday track performances where I'm normally last or thereabouts so taking on a race against horses might seem a bit futile. If you want to beat ALL the horses then, yes, you need to be fast to do that.

My goals were:

1) make it to the start,

2) make it to the end,

3) bonus if I could beat at least one finishing horse.

I'd looked at a set of results on Wikipedia and noticed that the last horse averaged around 14 minutes / mile. I figured that would be worth a shot to beat the last nag home!

The format of the race is fairly simple. There's a mass human start at 11am. 15 minutes later the circa 60 horses (+ riders) start. A person has beaten all the horses 3 times in the last 38 years. The horses can't cope with all the terrain that humans can so sometimes you're sharing tracks with them and other times they run a parallel part of the course. The theory is that, the hotter the weather, the slower the horses will be as they can't sweat much to cool off. Yesterday it rained in Wales all day so probably nice for the horses.

What I thought would happen is that the horses would rapidly catch up, wiz past and that would be the last I'd see of them. This was true, in my case, but only for the first 10 or so horses. After that you'd get a few horses catching up then you'd go past them and then they'd pass again. The horse pace varied a lot more than I'd imagined depending on the nature of the track so it was quite amazing to occasionally run next to a horse and even pass them here & there.

Training; I assumed it would be flaming June not June monsoon. I'm not sure how you can train for running in (anticipated) hotter weather when training on the downs in February but I tried running hotter than normal with an extra layer. It probably had no useful effect! Reading about the race I understood it to be about 23 miles with 3000 feet of ascent. I took a normal marathon plan and then added in hills so that I was up to roughly the 3000 feet on my long runs. This mostly involved going up & down the paths along the North side of the South Downs from near Devils Dyke and then zig-zig back on the South side of the downs.

A couple of days before the event they released the route profile (attached picture) and it turned out that this year the route was 4600+ feet of ascent! Kind of a big difference and too late to add that into the plan. Actually I'm not sure that it would have made a huge difference to my plan as I think you have to add the hills in gradually and I was finding the hills I did do left me totally knackered towards the end of most sessions.

So, how'd I do? Well, I beat 5 finishing horses (+9 that didn't make it all the way). In addition to solo runners like myself, there are also relay teams consisting of 3 people / team. I beat 21 relay teams. Overall I was 488th of 693 (including horses). Not bad for an aging ex-smoker if I say so myself. ...and if I can do that, clearly there's lot of opportunity for other club runners to do better!

Will I do it again? Absolutely."

Here's the results:

Kevin Bramhill