How to Settle a Welsh Pub Argument

It has been said that Great Britain and the United States are two nations separated by a common language. I’d say that it is events like the following that are the true separators. In the Welsh village of Llanwrtyd Wells (how in the world is that pronounced?) they held their 28th annual Horse-vs-Man 22-mile race. Nearly 500 runners went up against 46 horses in the contest through the hills of Wales.

This year, John Mcfarlane (human) was bested by a mere 30 seconds by Dukes Touch of Fun (horse), making the record for the equines in this race a robust 26-2. Three years ago, Huw Lobb (seriously, Welsh is an alien language right?) became the first human to win the race, and last year German Florian Holtinger outran the same Dukes Touch of Fun by 11 minutes to win. Dukes got his revenge this year, edging out Mcfarlane and retaining the crown for horses everywhere. For Geoffrey Allen, owner of Dukes Touch of Fun, the day was quite the success and he was very proud of his horse. “She deserves a good rest and some extra carrots now,” he said after the race.

Gordon Green, the organizer of the event said, “Everybody finished the race with no problems and it has been a great day – the weather was perfect. It’s not just eccentric – we’re the largest horse race in Britain, as the Grand National only has 40 horses.” Green, who is one of the founders of the race, explained the rationale of the event.

“It started from a conversation we had with huntsmen in a pub, about who would be fastest over a long distance. I said a runner would be fastest, and the huntsmen said it would be a horse. We’ve been running it ever since. It is getting better and better with people coming from far and wide.”

This isn’t even the strangest athletic event in the town though, as LLanwrtyd Wells also hosts the Bog Snorkeling championships every year.

So far, it looks like the horses have had the advantage, but only by a nose. I’m going back to my training to prepare for next years race, no horse can keep me down.

6 Responses to “How to Settle a Welsh Pub Argument”

  1. 1 Jim
    June 16, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    Just for information, in the Welsh language ‘y’ and ‘w’ are vowel sounds, in most cases pronounced as “uh” and “oo.” Double “L” is pronounced by putting the tongue on the roof of your mouth and blowing, making a sound similar to “thl-“.

    The use of the Welsh language in Wales declined sharply in the late 19th century when English landowners forbade its use in schools. However, in the latter part of the 20th century there was somewhat of a revival, and currently it is spoken to some degree by approximately 30% of the 3 million population. It now has equal status in Wales as an official language, along with English (similar to french in Canada).

    You may also be interested to know that there is a welsh speaking colony in Patagonia, Argentina.

  2. 2 shatraw
    June 17, 2008 at 12:31 am

    whatever. wales=middle earth. welsh=elven tongue.

  3. 3 Jim
    June 17, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    Not quite. Tolkien’s middle earth is based loosely on old england rather than wales. Although it is true that Wales has a rich history of mythology, and some invented elven languages have indeed been based on Welsh.

    Not sure if that was some kind of vague insult…. :S

  4. 4 the roomate
    June 17, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    Don’t mind shatraw, he is often grumpy like a dwarf after he finds his cousin’s disturbed tomb. He is also fierce and loyal like a dwarf, so stay on his good side and take his ribbing as forced comic relief(in the movies at least)

    I don’t know what the term is for a master of linguistics and world languages is, but I believe you, Jim, are one. Kudos!

    p.s. how do you win the bog snorkling competition? is it a race? a scavenger hunt? fishing-with-hands competition? a time + style points mountain dew-sponsored event?

  5. 5 garnold
    June 17, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    Watch it Slanch. These are my people you’re talking about here.


    Learn Welsh dude. My people are watching you.

  6. 6 Jim
    June 17, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    The bog snorkelling is just a straightforward race I think. Not sure if you have to keep your head fully submerged or not though. It’s messy whichever way you look at it!

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