Human Vs. Horse Marathon | NPR’s SKUNK BEAR

No matter how strong or fast you are,
if you went up against the rest of the animal kingdom in most physical challenges,
you wouldn’t do that well. Take Usain Bolt – the fastest guy we’ve got.
In his record setting 100 meter dash, he was moving almost 28 mph.
But that’s nothing compared to the top speed of a cheetah
or a horse, or an ostrich,
or even a lot of house cats. Take almost any contest, and humanity wouldn’t
have a chance But. There is one event where homo sapiens
might possibly beat everybody else – running marathons We have the endurance to run really far … ten,
20, 30 miles. Ultra-marathoners run 100 miles in a go. We just might be the best
endurance runners on the planet. And I love this idea – partly because
before I became a scrawny, out of shape adult, I was a scrawny, in-shape kid.
I was really short and I wasn’t that fast, but I could run for a loooong time So when I heard about an event in Wales where
humans actually race against horses I had to go to see it. So I packed my lunch And I gave my boss the slip Wrote myself this theme song Going on a field trip, yeah Lan-wur-tid Wells? How do you say the name of this town Llanwrtyd Wells Woah Llanwrtyd Wells Llanwisthid Chlanwrtyd
It’s Llanwrtyd you @#$%& Llanwrtyd Wells is the smallest town in britain
with just 600 people and lots of sheep
But today its population is about to double because for the 36th year in a row,
The town is hosting a human vs. horse marathon And it all started at this hotel. I was in the bar one night with a local huntsman And I said that a runner would be much faster
than a horse over a long distance We decided we’d put it to the test and that’s
how it all started” Now, over the past 35 years, a horse has usually
been the champion. Any advice for the newcomers? SNORT That’s great advice. But every so often, a HUMAN wins.
The first person to do it was actually a man named Huw. How did Hugh manage it?
It turns out our bodies our actually built for long distance running.
We’ve got structures in our inner ears to keep us balanced with all that jostling
Springier tendons than our primate cousins, so we bounce as we run, and use less energy
A narrow waste and huge bottom muscles that keep our trunks stabilized. So as the competitors gather, there’s a question
in the air Who will win this year? Humans? Or the animals they’ve bred for centuries
to be fast and strong? To avoid getting trampled, the humans start first. Then, fifteen minutes later,
the clock starts for the horses It’s 22 miles of mud, mountains and river
crossings. In addition to their springy tendons and big
bottoms — these humans have a few more things going for them.
They don’t have to carry a person They’re nimble on turns and steep inclines.
And if it was a hot day, they’d be better at keeping cool. This last ability is a really big part of what made our ancestors such great good long distance runners Take your great great great – hundreds of
thousands of times great grandpa. He’s descended from trees, lost his fur, and
is moving around on two legs. and all that evolving has made him hungry
He doesn’t have spears or arrows yet – and he can’t run faster than this antelope.
But he can sweat. And the antelope can’t.
It needs to stop and pant to cool down. So on a hot day, if your ancestor just keeps
chasing that antelope It can’t stop. It can’t cool down. And eventually
it will collapse from heat exhaustion And your ancient ancestor will get to have dinner Today’s a bit different – these humans aren’t
chasing a meal. And horses — unlike antelopes — actually
can sweat They just don’t cool themselves as efficiently
as humans do. But, that won’t matter today, because a cooling rain is falling So it’s anyone’s guess who’s going to win. Could be a human Could be a horse The first finisher, coming in at 2:30, is a human.
In fact, its another man named Hugh But, remember, he had a fifteen minute head start And just a few minutes later …
The first horse comes in. It’s time? 2:20 A horse is this year’s champion. But the humans held their own. And Hugh did beat 46 of the 50 horses I might make that a sort of tagline Put it on a bumper sticker I think Yeah, faster than 46 out of 50 horses That means if he had lived a million years
ago, he would have been able to have meat for dinner And that’s what makes the human ability to
run long distances such a big deal. The theory goes that running got us meat
and meat fueled our evolution. All that fat and protein helped build bigger
brains It gave us time to invent tools, domesticate
animals, create language, culture, science, music In short — running made us who we are. [music plays]


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