1000 Mile Race – a little bit of history…
As this is going to be long race, I’ll indulge in a few posts now and again on the background to the event.
It might come as a surprise to many people but the 1000 mile race is probably the oldest ultra-distance race on record (the definition of “ultra-distance” being any race longer than a marathon in length).
The recorded history of the 1000 mile race goes back some 252 years, and a lot has happened in the past two-and-a-half centuries (but more on that anon).
The earliest recorded 1000 mile event (there may have been others at some earlier point, but if so no extant record exists) took place in England during the early part of 1758.
Sorry but I won’t be uploading a video of that race, for obvious reasons.
This first 1000 mile event was held in Birmingham after a local “pedestrian” (professional race-walker), George Guest, made a bet that he could cover one thousand miles in under 28 days.
George Guest succeeded by a margin of five hours having covered the final six miles during his last hour.
Back in 1758 the 1000 mile race was a walking event (not that there was actually a ban on running, it just wasn’t thought possible to run 1000 miles), now it is predominantly a runner’s race, although race-walkers still take part (more on that in a later post). The race is effectively a go-as-you-please event, i.e. a person can run or walk, however they wish, with the winner being the first one to reach 1000 miles. William will be using a run-walk combination strategy throughout the 1000 miles.
However, the 28 day target for the event is very much a thing of the past. The Athens 1000 mile World Cup has a maximum duration of 16 days – William and several other runners will be hoping to finish in rather less than the 16 day maximum… But George Guest’s 28 days is not something to be sniffed at – the last time a 1000 mile race was held, none of the men reached 1000 miles within the time limit.
With 250+ years of history (and many, many thousands of miles) behind it, the 1000 mile race pre-dates today’s popular ultra-events (such as the 100km) by a long way – and “a long way” just about sums up the whole race…
More on the history of the 1000 mile event later during the race,
All the best,