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Riddle: Horse Race

Two men ride their horses to the town blacksmith to ask for his daughter's hand in marriage. To help decide who will get to marry her, the blacksmith proposes a very strange race:

"You will race your horses down the mile-long road from here to to the center of town, and the man whose horse passes through city hall's gates LAST will get to marry my daughter."

The men have no idea how to proceed, but after a few minutes of thinking, they come up with a great idea to abide by the blacksmith's rules. 30 minutes later, one of the men is gloating, having won the daughter's hand in marriage.

What was the idea the men had?

Read the blacksmith's instructions carefully.

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