Monday, 7 April 2014

Competitive walking

On a few occasions on this blog (and believe me, much more frequently in real life) I have mentioned various types of 'extreme' walks. One thing I don't like is the Olympics walking discipline, where people try to walk as fast as possible. To me, it appears a rather stupid type of movement. If you want to go fast, just run!

Gizmodo has an article about a form of extreme walking from Victorian times that I'd never heard of before: competitive walking. This is not the Olympic-style extreme walking, but instead involved walking vast distances with little rest. Naturally enough, this is much more my cup of tea.

People would walk along a short looper track for six days, excluding the Sabbath, and bunks were provided for them to catch a few hours of much-needed rest. They would often manage over 100 miles a day for all six days. The American races were front-page news, and massively popular spectator sports.

A detailed story can be found on the Planetultramarathon website, and there is also a book:
Pedestrianism: When Watching People Walk Was America's Favorite Spectator Sport

I could never hope to be the next Cliff Young, and I find the idea of walking even fifty miles in a day to be rather a tall order. But kudos to those who can, and especially those who did.

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