1000 mile race history (part 3)
A little more on the early days of the 1000 mile race.
Last time I mentioned that Wilson and Crisp pushed the standard for the 1000 mile event up to 20 days, averaging 50 miles per day. Here is a little bit more about these two early 1000-milers…
George Wilson was a famous pedestrian in his day, though he could almost be said to have been infamous during one part of his career.
Wilson became involved in a scandal concerning one of his 1000 mile events. Prior to the event Wilson had made a bet as to completing the race in 20 days (betting on ones ability to complete a distance was probably the main source of income for the early pedestrians). About half way through the thousand miles, Wilson was stopped and charged with causing a breach of the peace. This meant that as he was unable to complete the thousand miles in the stated 20 days, by default he lost his bet – a catastrophic financial blow that caused him to end up in debtor’s prison.
A lot of people might have been somewhat put off by this – but evidently not George Wilson….
Willson continued to walk while in prison, clocking up some 50 miles in 12 hours.
No, the debtor’s prison didn’t have a running track – he did the 50 miles in the small prison yard, which measured “11 yards by 8”. This meant making some nine thousand and twenty six turns (by comparison to which the current track in Athens looks pretty easy).
George Wilson was not to be cowed by his imprisonment. Following his release in November 1816, Wilson returned to 1000 mile eventing and covered the thousand miles in Hull in 17 days 23 hours 19 minutes, 10 seconds.
In 1817, Daniel Crisp was watched by an estimated 10,000 people (and do bear in mind this was before such things as television or the internet…!) as he managed a walk of 1,134 miles on the Uxbridge road. He completed the 1,134 miles in 21 days.
Again on the Uxbridge road in 1818, Crisp walked 1,037 miles in 16 days 23 hours and 8 minutes, in the process setting a new record for the 1000 miles – and this in spite of the Thames overflowing its banks and flooding the road during his attempt. Crisp was forced – on five occasions – to wade through the flood water for a quarter of a mile at a time.
Daniel Crisp’s 16 day, 23hrs and 8 mins time for completing the 1000+ miles was to remain unbeaten for sixty years – only eventually being surpassed in the heyday of the Victorian pedestrian period
To once again give a context in relation to the race in Athens – Crisp’s almost 17 day record remained unbeaten for more than half a century. In Athens the competitors have a MAXIMUM of 16 days to complete the 1000 miles….
More on the history of the 1000 mile race coming up later,
All the best