Long distance runner pips endurance horse to the finishing line in a 50-mile race in the United Arab Emirates

It was a close run thing, but in the end the human runner had a 30 second edge over his equine competitor.

American long distance specialist Tom Johnson is the world champion runner over distances of 80, 100 and 160 km.

The saving grace for 11-year-old endurance horse Al Baraaq was that he hadto have two compulsory stops for veterinary inspections, plus food and water. One lasted for 40 minute, while the other was cut to 20 minutes.

The race, sponsored by HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed al Nahyan, was the first man-versus-horse in theUnited Arab Emirates.

It stretched across dunes, rolling hills and long stretches of flat sand.

Al Baraaq’s jockey Jennifer Nice, who is also editor of Endurance World, said: “Tom ran the entire 80km without stopping. I finished the first 32 km loop about 20 minutes ahead of him, but, with my mandatory hold, he was then 20 minutes ahead of me and I never caught him after that.

“He was about 1km from the finish when I was about 3km from the finish and even though I did the last 3km at a full gallop, he beat me by about 50 meters.

“It was a pretty exciting finish. I was very surprised by the results. I thought for certain that I would beat him, but Tom is very fast.”

The finishing time for Tom was 5 hours 45 minutes.

  • Click here to read about a racehorse which went AWOL on the way to the start.