I just heard about a book called “Pedestrianism.” It’s about the walking craze of the late 1800s.
Now, when I say “walking craze,” I don’t mean people walked for exercise. People walked as a competitive sport. I am NOT making this up. Guys would walk while people watched them.
And they did this for Six. Days. Straight. They had Sunday off. It was like a much, much slower Indy 500. Instead of cars going in circles, walkers would walk all day long.
I guess they had cots in the middle of the track to nap on, but you don’t want to nap too long! You might lose the race! (“Race” might be too strong a word for what they were doing.)
People would go and watch this! Like, celebrities! Or the equivalent of celebrities back then. You remember James Blaine, right? Yeah, nobody else does, either. (“Celebrity” might be too strong a word for these people.)
Again, people watched this for hours. I guess because nobody invented…um…anything mildly entertaining yet.
Just like people now, they made the sporting event more exciting by placing bets.
The “walkers” would also try to spice it up a little. I’m sure you’ve heard about Edward Payson Weston’s famous outfits. Ruffled shirts. A cape. Maybe a cane.
Boy howdy, that’s a spectacle. Who needs TV when I can see ruffled shirt action!
Also, for some reason, they thought champagne was good while walking. Like it was Gatorade. So they drank it. A LOT. I suppose THAT made it a better show!
Then somebody invented a bicycle. This LITERALLY blew their minds. The SPEED! The world just blazed ahead 6.4 mph!
This book sounds so amazingly awesome that I might just read it. And then I’ll try to get competitive walking on ESPN. Because if you’ve ever seen me walk, you’d think I did it for a living.
I’m off to pedestriate.