Walking: America’s Favorite Spectator Sport

In odd Friday news – did you know that a popular competitive sport in the 1870s and 80s was . . . walking?

NPR has more:

“In the decades after the Civil War there was mass urbanization in the United States [with] millions of people moving into the cities,” Algeo tells NPR’s Robert Siegel. “And there wasn’t much for them to do in their free time, so pedestrianism — competitive walking matches — filled a void for people. It became quite popular quite quickly.”

Huge crowds packed indoor arenas to watch the best walkers walk. Think of it as a six-day NASCAR race … on feet.

“These guys were walking 600 miles in six days,” Alego says. “They were on the track almost continuously. They’d have little cots set up inside the track where they would nap a total of maybe three hours a day. But generally, for 21 hours a day, they were in motion walking around the track.”

Read (or listen to) the whole thing here.

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