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Man vs. Horse – Racing Ultradistances (2018) (ultrarunninghistory.com)
44 points by ZeljkoS 5 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 36 comments

This page provides an atrocious autotranslate into my language without asking. I guess the original article is in english and one can switch that, but please don't do this.

This is especially bad since I'm sending "Accept-Language: de,en-US;q=0.7,en;q=0.3".

Do not automatically provide bad autotranslation as default, especially if the user does accept the original language. You can prominently hint at that feature, but do not force it.

Joining this motion; what I got was basically gibberish, I felt like I was having a stroke.

Yes please.

Another interesting comparison is bike v. horse.

It is very close for anything up to, say, 2.5 miles (4 km) with record times of 4:02 - 4:05:



The bike will win over very long distances.

For example, the 100 mile record for a horse is 5:45:44, but for a bike it is 3:11:11



Anyone want to see horses in the TdF :)

Bikes are cheating.

Bikes need roads. In fact wheels in general are terrible without roads, that's why such a simple concept is rarely seen in nature and appeared relatively late in human history. Bike vs horse on road is unfair, it is like asking a horse to outswim a fish.

Man vs horse on foot is more fair, it is actually representative a natural advantage humans have over other animals. If the human wins, it means it could hunt the horse to exhaustion.

A man can run a horse down even if the horse can outrun him (by some amount, say 50%).

Firstly he could ambush the horse, injuring it; but let's ignore that and say it starts off fairly. He surprises the horse, it spooks and starts running. It won't run at a measured pace, it will tend to run either too fast or too slow. Psychologically it is going to be in a panicked state for an extended period of time, it's not going to operate close to peak performance as it would with a rider.

After that the man can also both use his brain to drive the horse towards a desired location as well as his determination and knowledge of previous hunts to win the race.

> For example, the 100 mile record for a horse is 5:45:44, but for a bike it is 3:11:11

Doesn't that pretty much show that horse beats man except on extreme distances? The human record for running 100 miles is 11:28:03. And I do not think it would be ethical to have horses run e.g. 1000 km (human record 5d 16:17:00).

The Mongol Derby is 1000km but riders change horses every 40km


I've run AZ's Man Against Horse... it's possible that I've beaten a few horses, but honestly, not sure. It's a pretty fun event....

There was a really great RadioLab episode about it the other day: https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/radiolab/articles/man-a...

Thanks for linking the radiolab episode, that was much better than the featured link.

It so happens that I’m doing the man vs horse race in Wales mentioned at the bottom of the article this year - and although I’ll be giving it my best, I’m not exactly optimistic of my chances. Only two runners have ever won since the race started in 1980, the first did the 24 mile course in 2 hours and 5 minutes, which is a amazing time given the terrain.

I think, over that shorter distance, the only reason men have won before is because the horses go through a vet check halfway - but that seems entirely reasonable given the risks.

I've done the relay twice, and hope to do the full race this year (I didn't get a place, but I'm holding out for a drop out).

We beat quite a few horses, many of them see it as a day out rather than a race. What I found was that horses win uphill and on the flat, but humans are vastly better going downhill. I managed to keep up with a group of horses as I could always catch up on the downhill, where the horse is at a big disadvantage.

Good luck this year! It's an awesome event.

With the rise in popularity of ultramarathons, couldn't you take the best time of the 100+ mile races and compare that to times for horses on similar distances and terrain?

When I saw the heading, I was convinced at the end it would say that on distances of 200 miles and longer that those few humans who do actually run these distances have better times than the best horse times...

Long ago, I went a couple of times to serve as "handler" for a friend who was attempting the Old Dominion 100, a race for which humans may go afoot 100 miles, and horses may compete over 50 or 100 miles. I was interested to see that at intervals the horse had to be checked by a veterinarian, who as I recall checked the horse's heart rate at arrival, then after a few minutes of rest. The humans were checked for health problems the day before the race, not thereafter.

(A handler drives about with dry clothing, spare shoes, snacks etc. At the Old Dominion 100, a handler may also accompany the runner over some portion of the end of the course--33 miles the second year. This I think is chiefly to provide a second source of judgment for the exhausted runners.)

Let’s not forget the legendary Mensen Ernst. He raced against horses (and won?) in the 1700’s


Reminds me of endurance hunting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=826HMLoiE_o

I've always wondered how meat from endurance hunting tastes. I imagine it's pretty gamey considering what stress does to deer and rabbit meat.

Yea honestly a jockey'd horse is hard to beat, since the human can pace them. Wonder how wild horses would fare a human chasing them to exhaustion.

Probably not too well.


There are documentaries of wolves and wild dogs hunting large prey by chasing them until the large prey is so exhausted and overheated that it collapses.

Of note - the most important reason why a human would win the horse (and other animals), is because a human would carry water with them.

The water is useful mostly because we sweat.

Do you think horses don't sweat ?

> (and other animals)

There doesn't seem to be as much consensus on the case for persistence hunting as there once was.


The only people who persistence hunt still are the people who didn't find a better approach. Be it that they don't need a better approach (which is fine. Means they're optimized) or that they simply spend.so much time hunting that they don't have the excess time and resources to experiment with new approaches

I also think it depends on the environment. I can imagine ancient humans persistence hunting across the plains of Africa. I have a harder time picturing it in rain forests or the forests that used to cover most of Europe.

And once you learn to drive big game into pits, most of the other options seem less efficient.

Fair test would be a jockey'd horse against a human carrying another human.

Arguably dead weight ballast scaled to the same fraction of total weight would be more fair than unburdened runner vs horse+rider, but if you expect the human to carry another human (but not the horse to carry the equivalent of another horse) you might just as well go full symmetry and require the human to carry a horse. In this variation, horse would lose to elephant.

I thought more about the ability to transport one human.

I suppose by this way of thinking I've been soundly trouncing cars for years now. They wear out after a few decades, but I can keep going on and on and on.

I've got a car that just passed 200,000 miles. I suspect that on foot, I have not surpassed that in my lifetime. Let's see: Five miles a day might be a reasonable average of just walking around (not hiking, etc). I'm at about 19,000 days, so my "just everyday walking" might be in the neighborhood of 100,000 miles. That would leave hiking, jogging, playing games, etc, as needing to make up another 100,000 miles. I'm pretty sure I haven't done that. (I might average more than five miles a day of just everyday walking. Probably not 10, though.)

So I think my car might still be winning.

Uh.. that sounds really cruel. And the writing makes it sound like the horses were running voluntarily, like the humans.

What is cruel about it?

Running a horse to exhaustion to the detriment of its health?

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