Trio of Portsmouth women hope to gallop ahead in gruelling Whole Earth Man vs Horse race

  • Friends start their training to conquer 22-mile sprint across Welsh hillsides against 60 horses
  • All the women are tackling their own fitness demons and hope to use the wacky Welsh race to put them to bed
  • Olympian now set to help them with their training for the event in June
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THESE three friends from Portsmouth are hoping they will have the legs to finish a gruelling 22-mile cross-country race – against 60 horses.

Sarah Booth, Helen Sutherland and Lauren Golledge have been chosen to compete in this year’s Whole Earth Man v Horse challenge event.

From left,''Sarah Booth, Laura Golledge, endurance coach Martin Yelling, Albus the horse, Helen Sutherland and Olympian Liz Yelling 'Picture: Whole Earth

From left,''Sarah Booth, Laura Golledge, endurance coach Martin Yelling, Albus the horse, Helen Sutherland and Olympian Liz Yelling 'Picture: Whole Earth

The annual endurance competition pits humans against horses, with runners and riders racing over the challenging terrain of Powys, mid-Wales.

After a nationwide search to find the perfect trio of women to tackle the June race, Sarah, Helen and Lauren were selected by organisers, Whole Earth.

But it will be a literal uphill battle for the friends – who say they all have their own fitness goals to conquer.

They all need to complete a seven-mile section of the course, which will tackle some of the toughest cross-country routes Wales has to offer.

Over 37 runnings of the event, it has only been won by a human twice.

Helen, of Washbrook Road, Wymering, has just had her first child Cameron and is keen to build her stamina back up.

The 31-year-old radiographer at Queen Alexandra Hospital, said: ‘I have never run that far before so it’s pretty daunting. But I’m excited to do it.’

Sarah, 28, has battled ill-health and shingles for many years, which has left her housebound – with her last bout hitting last year.

But the former teacher at Westover Primary School, is determined to ‘put her health demons to bed’ and is running in memory of her godmother, Sheila Tally, who lost her fight against multiple sclerosis.

Explaining why she is running, she said: ‘When Sheila died I had that sudden realisation that we don’t know when an illness is going to take everything away from you – you might have years or maybe just a few months, you just don’t know.’

Lauren, 28, of Redcar Avenue, Portsmouth, was inspired by Sarah’s courage and said the event will be a great chance for all three friends to bond.

‘I was born and bred in Portsmouth which is nice and flat, so running over the hills of Wales is going to be horrible,’ she added.

The group will be supported by double Olympian Liz Yelling and her personal trainer husband, Martin, as well as a team of nutritionists – all arranged by Whole Earth.

Liz said: ‘Standing on the start line with 60 horses will be something I’ve never done before. This isn’t the Olympics for me – but for some people it will be their own Olympics.’

The race now in its 37th year, is on June 11, but first started in 1980 following a pub bet.

Huw Lobb was the first human winner, finishing with a time of 2hrs 5min 19 sec in 2004 – two minutes ahead of his nearest equestrian rival.