Copyright 2021 - Dundee Roadrunners

Brian Dunbar: Man vs Horse

I joined the club not long after its inception because I wanted to run in a group. Being a member of DRR has made me many friends over the years and helped me to enjoy running even on those cold wintry nights.  There have been many characters in the club over the years. One who I have always remembered was the late Errol Galloway. His enthusiasm was endless. I remember one AGM when he had a list of proposals as long as a marathon and the meeting went on and on and on. There were proposals for our own hut, mini-bus etc etc.


One of the most unusual races I ever did was the Man v Horse v Mountain bike race in Wales in 1991.   The history of the race began during a conversation in a pub about whether a man could race and beat a horse over a long distance. The upshot of this was that they decided to organise a race to find out and so the 22mile race was born and after a couple of events mountain bikers were invited to compete as well.


I decided to try it after hearing that a few club members were to be going. (Again it was in a pub after the Inverness half-marathon). 


I hadnít done that sort of distance for a number of years and to set a goal to train for it I entered the Dundee Marathon which was about 6 ñ 7 weeks away just to get the distance in. (Incidentally I did 3:48 with only two 17 milers as my longest runs).


In our group representing the club were Neal Grieve, Kath Green, Neil Duthie, John Kirkland, Peter Saul, Peter & Toni Wilson, Jane Carroll and myself. Two other non-running members Muriel Muir and Sandra Westgate came along for the weekend.  We all left for the long drive to Wales on the Friday morning. We eventually arrived at Llanwrtyd Wells from where the race began.  Our first task was to set up camp on the village football pitch. Once this was done it was in to the pub for few pints and a bite to eat. I think it was almost midnight by the time we left the pub and headed for our tents. Not the best sort of preparation for what was in store for us the next day.


The day of the race beckoned and it was overcast, slight wind and looking like rain not the sunny June weather we were expecting.   The race was started by Screaming Lord Sutch the 60s pop star turned political leader of the Monster Raving Loony Party.  


The beginning was a mad dash with horses, humans and mountain bikes making their way through the village before ascending the first of many climbs of the day. Once under way the field strung out and the weather was beginning to take a turn for the worse. For June it was more like February but I had to keep moving. There were vet stations to monitor the horses but none for us mortals.  I donít remember much more about the race but I do remember having to run through a stream which was more like a fast flowing river by now about a mile from the village. At the end the others from our group who had finished were there to cheer me home.  I was glad to finish. I was cold, wet through but I wouldnít have missed it for the world. The worst part was still to comeÖqueuing up for a hot shower which by the time it was my turn was a cold one.


At night the village pub was bustling with the participants all voicing their particular memory of the race. Again it was another late night (and a lock in) before rolling back to the tent and prepare for the long journey home.


Yes it was good weekend and being a Dundee Roadrunner certainly helped me because I donít think I would have considered doing this type of race on my own.


And to answer the question can a man beat a horse yes he can but not every year! This man certainly didnít!


Brian Dunbar.

Follow us on Social Media