RECORDS AND RULES FOR WOBBLES. This article from the walkapedia web site (which is devoted to identifying and walking the world’s 100 best walks) gives the history of the late 19th century craze of competitive walks for the period from 1861 to 1889. The competitors walked on an indoor track. There is a picture accompanying the walkapedia article showing competitors on adjacent tracks.

For a long time, there was considered to be a physical limit on what a walker could do, just as it was thought for a long time in the fifties that a “four minute mile” could not be achieved—until Roger Bannister ran a four minute mile in 1952 (and held the world record for 46 days) (wikipedia entry here). In walking the goal was 500 miles in six days. Eventually the 500 mile mark was surpassed, and the record set in 1882 of 531 miles in six days still stands. This record was for rules which required that some part of one foot always touch the ground.

Another set of rules developed which permitted running. “Go-as-you please” rules allowed competitors to “walk, trot, run, mix, lift, or introduce a new style of pedestrianism if clever enough.” The advantage of running seems to have been that different muscles were used. Says walkopedia: “In 1888 George Littlewood set the Pedestrian era record of 623 miles at Madison Square Garden in New York, demonstrating tolerance for pain and injury beyond comprehension.”

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