Six day walk anyone?

Margie was away this weekend but sent this post in advance. About 10 of us gathered at High Park at 7am for a 16k walk along the noisy Lakeshore.  It was nice except for the 5-10 minutes of Indy ear-splitting car racing. James and Rorie helped Phyllis walk her 32k distance in prep for a marathon walk in mid September. That’s nothing compared to the 6 day walk.

History of Walking

The sport of walking has developed over time across many continents. The first walkers lived around 4 million years BC when humans discovered that being two-legged freed the hands for making tools, eating, etc. This walking for survival eventually became walking for entertainment, money and competition. The first serious pedestrian was Edward Payson Weston who earned a lucrative income as a professional walker and who, in 1867, walked from Portland to Chicago (1200 miles) in 26 days, winning a dare of $10,000.00, a fortune at the time. During his excursions he often faced adverse conditions. He also ate while walking. Sound familiar, ladies? In 1867 Weston gave many lectures on the benefits of walking and started the public competitive sport of “6 Day Walking.� He held his position as the world’s best walker until Daniel O’Leary broke his 6-Day record in 1874, winning the title “Champion Pedestrian of the World.� These competitions are the forerunners of what we now call “racewalking�. (source: Wikipedia).

But where were the women? Glad you asked. In the 1800’s women began to insist on participation. In 1877 Mary Marshall walked 50 miles in 12 hours. In 1879 the first Women’s 6-Day Walking challenge was launched and was won by Bertha Von Berg, earning her a $1000.00 dollar purse. Through these accomplishments, women slowly gained inclusion and respect as serious competitive walkers.

By the1990’s walking had become the most popular form of exercise in North America, with 65 million registered walkers. Today, marathon organizers across the world have become “walker friendly� to varying extents. There is even a walkers-only marathon: the Kitchener-Waterloo Walking Classic. With groups such as WoW advocating for walkers in marathons, and with each individual walk and marathon registration, all coming together as a cumulative positive voice, our sport will continue to thrive and grow!

Helpful resources

“The Lost art of Walking� by Geoff Nicholson
“Wanderlust: A History of Walking� by Rebecca Solnit

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