Can a man run faster than a horse?

There have been a number of gimmicky man vs horse videos on Youtube over the years, including one where former British 100m runner Dwain Chambers takes on a horse over that distance. He wins the race but it’s clear that the horse was at nowhere near top speed.

The fact of the matter is that horses can handily outrun a human being over such a distance. The fastest speed achieved by a horse on record is 43.97 mph, by Winning Brew in the United States in May of 2008. That would equate to a 100m time of a little over 5 seconds at top speed throughout. Another example, the fastest Melbourne Cup winner, Kingston Rule is known to have reached a top speed of 36.47 mph, which would result in a 6.1 seconds 100m at top speed.

For perspective sake, a Cheetah can cover 100m in 3.9 seconds. 100m World Record Holder Usian Bolt  is known to have reached a top speed of 27.42 mph, which is 8.2 seconds at top speed (of course again not factoring in that people have to get into their stride). This falls far short of the speed of a horse. In fact, his performance is more comparable to that of a….. wombat – which can reach speeds of 24.85 mph – 9 seconds over a 100m distance.

How about over a longer distance? Funny you should ask, as there is a 22 mile Man versus Horse Marathon held annually in the Welsh town of Llanwrtyd Wells (and other Man vs Horse races held in Scotland, New Zealand and elsewhere). Its inception came by way of a landlord overhearing an argument between two men in his pub over whether a man could beat a horse over a significant distance. The race consists of runners vs riders on horseback. Held every year since 1980, a horse has won every year but twice, making a clear winner of this front too. In 2019 American ultra-runner Michael Wardian gave it a shot. He needn’t have bothered, as he failed to beat both the fastest horse and fthe astest runner!