Pedestrianism - the first extreme sport . . . | Deadspin

Headlines are quick hits from media outlets from Missouri and around the world. Follow the headline link for the full story. The source of this headline says:

By the early 1800s, only bare-knuckle boxing could match pedestrianism for popularity. In 1811, Englishman Tom Cribb and American Tom Molineaux fought an epic “world championship” bout in front of 25,000 spectators for a prize purse of 600 guineas. Cribb, who was backed and trained by Captain Barclay, had been a coal porter and Molineaux was a former slave. Both became hugely wealthy. Sports offered a rare opportunity to climb out of poverty at a time of almost insurmountable social inequality.

Wilson said he would have liked to have been a boxer if his “ill stars” had not prevented him. Instead, he was driven to achieve the fame and earnings of a professional pedestrian. “Most men have an ambition to be thought excellent in some pursuit,” he wrote. “Walking was the object of my emulation. I anticipated that it could open my road to celebrity and emolument. It was this spark that cheered me by day and lighted me by night in many a tedious journey, gave new spring to my sinews, and encouraged, perhaps, my vanity, to perseverance.”

Wilson’s first notable feat of pedestrianism was in 1805, at age 40, when he walked across England at its narrowest point—a distance of 84 miles in 22 and a half hours. He undertook high-profile challenges at Newmarket in 1807 and London in 1808. Then, in 1809, he walked 360 miles over six consecutive days for a prize of 50 guineas.

MoBikeFed comment: Walking is something most everyone does--and most of us should do a little more.

But when you get into walks of 300 miles and up, it really is an extreme sport in many ways. We see that, even today, in through hikers of the major trails like the Appalacian, the Pacific Coast, and the Ozark Trail