Self-Transcendence 6-Day Race, New York, 2012 – History of The Self-Transcendence 6 & 10 day races (part 1)

History of The Self-Transcendence 6 & 10 day races

(part 1)

Source :

This event is akin to the old six day endurance events held in the latter part of the 19th century, popularly known as ”pedestrianism’.
Those races were held on indoor short tracks made of compressed earth and tree bark or sawdust.
The athletes would run in a style known as ‘go as you please’- they could run or walk around the clock.
Nearly 100 years before the six-day races were in their heyday, attempts at 1000 miles within a   20 day timeframe had been undertaken by highly trained professional walkers, with large amounts of money waged on their outcomes.
Most of these contests were solo events in which a walker would cover one mile each hour for 1000 consecutive hours.
Because so few of these contests were competitive, it took nearly a century before larger fields and more do-able events like the six-day became popular.
Great athletes of the 1880’s began to push the totals up to 600 miles covered in six days.
British runner George Littlewood peaked the event at 623 miles in 1888.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, pedestrianism died out, as promoters either lost money or their enthusiasm, and the athletes disappeared.
The six day event was revived in the early 1980’s as ultramarathoning followed on the heals of marathon fever and the running boom of the 1970’s.
Yiannis Kouros of Greece holds the current road record of 643 miles, set in 2005 in Australia, at the ripe age of 49 years.
(part 2 to follow)