Can Humans Outrun Many Animals?

Four months after winning an unprecedented four gold medals at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Jesse Owens found himself in Havana, Cuba, for a race that promoters were calling the "Race of the Century." This time, though, the heroic 23-year-old American sprinter was lined up against a horse as halftime entertainment at a Cuban soccer match. Owens was given a 40-yard (37 m) head start in the 100-yard (91 m) sprint, and when the gun went off to start the race, Julio McCaw hesitated before galloping toward the finishing line. Owens exploded from the blocks and ran a 9.9-second race, edging out his hard-charging, four-legged challenger.

A talented athlete, down on his luck:

  • Soon after the 1936 Olympics, Owens lost his amateur status after accepting some lucrative endorsement deals. He would contend with economic uncertainty for the rest of his life.
  • In the years following the "man vs. horse" stunt, Owens raced trains, cars, motorbikes, baseball players -- even a dog. “Those races made me sick,” Owens later said. “I felt like a freak.”
  • Owens later ran a dry cleaning business and worked as a gas station attendant just to earn a living. He was a pack-a-day cigarette smoker for 35 years and died in 1980 at age 66, succumbing to an aggressive type of lung cancer.
More Info: The Guardian

Discussion Comments


The race with the horse doesn't account for anything. When you give the man a 40 yard advantage it's an admission that the horse is going to win and no amount of line moving is going to change that. Stupid gimmick.

It's too bad that today's endorsement possibilities didn't exist yet, but his name will be forever cemented in history.



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