Victorian London - Entertainment and Recreation - Sport - Walking


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SOME years since, the feat of walking one thousand miles in one thousand hours was considered next to an impossibility; but here we have to record the wonder doubled. This has been accomplished on the Surrey Cricket-ground, Kennington Oval, by Richard Manks, whose feats of walking present instances of the capability and endurance of the human frame altogether unparalleled. Manks commenced this feat on Friday, the 26th of last September; but, being suddenly attacked with diarrhoea, he was compelled to give up on the Monday following, after having walked 129 miles. His surgeon ordered Manks to rest for a time to recruit his health and strength. This the pedestrian reluctantly yielded to, and for a fortnight he remained under medical treatment. On Friday the 10th October, he re-commenced his great task, starting for the first mile at four o'clock in the afternoon; on he went, full of spirit, completing his first 100 miles at 43 min. 15 sec. after five o'clock on Sunday evening, 12th Oct., his second 100 miles at 44 min. 10 sec. past seven o'clock on Tuesday, 14th Oct., his third 100 miles on Thursday, 16th Oct., at 44 min. 45 sec. after nine o'clock P.M., his fourth 100 miles, at 45 mm. 16 sec. after 11 o'clock, P.M, Saturday, 18th Oct.; his fifth 100 miles, on Monday, 20th Oct., at 44 min. 10 sec. after 1 o'clock in the morning; his sixth 100 miles on Wednesday. 22nd Oct.. at 47 min. 10 sec after 3 o'clock in the morning; his seventh 100 miles on Saturday morning, 25th Oct. at 44 min. 16 sec.. after 5 o'clock; his eighth 100 miles on Monday morning, 27th Oct., at 44 min.30sec. past 7o'clock ; his ninth 100 miles on Wednesday morning, the 29th Oct., at 45 min. 15 sec. after 9 o'clock; his 950th mile at 45 min. 20 sec. past 10 o'clock in the morning of Thursday, 30th; and finally going for his 1000th mile at half-past 11 o'clock on Friday morning, Oct. 31.
    The weather was delightfully fine for the season up to Wednesday, 15th October, when it rained heavily throughout the whole of the day; after which it continued favourable up to Tuesday night, 28th October, when, at about ten o'clock, there commenced a heavy fall of rain, which continued for nearly six hours: this was very trying for the almost worn-out pedestrian; and, although so near the finish, many persons were apprehensive that he would not be able to complete his task; still onward Manks went, against the most fearful odds and obstacles; although his feet were severely blistered, his limbs in great pain and he altogether showed the frightful effects of his incessant labour. On Wednesday the weather cleared up, yet the ground was slippery and difficult to traverse; notwithstanding his treading-path was strewed with sawdust, each separate mile took two or three minutes more off his limited period to go through, whilst his feet were covered with blisters and sores. The surgeon ordered them to be poulticed which was done. Manks's shoes were then changed and cut, to give him more ease, and in that state he kept on his task. During Wednesday night it again rained heavily, so that it was with great difficulty Manks could get over the ground. Thursday morning brought again sunshine, which enabled the pedestrian to proceed; and the 1000th mile was gone over in 7 min. 49 sec., in the presence of upwards of 3000 spectators, besides a great crowd outside the Oval.
    To perform every 100 miles, 50 hours were required, including rest, meats, change of clothing, ablution, &c. The average rate of walking for the first 300 miles was about 14 minutes per mile, leaving about 16 minutes only for rest &c. The next 300 miles took 16 minutes on an average for a mile, leaving less than 14 minutes for sleep, &c. The third 300 miles averaged 16 min. 30 sec. per mile, allowing about 13 minutes respite between each mile; and up to the finish about the same time per mile was taken.
    Every mile Manks walked measured 1781 yards, being 21 yards beyond the requisite distance; consequently, to complete his monstrous feat, he went 11 miles 7 furlongs and 100 yards beyond the stipulated 1000 miles.
    Manks's appetite remained good, and his general health excellent :  ten minutes sufficed to refresh him at any one time. He partook of animal and other nourishing food eight or ten times during the twenty-four hours; including  game and poultry, roast beef and steaks, mutton, and chops &c. ; strong beef tea he drank in considerable quantities. Old ale was his favourite beverage; and he took tea with brandy in it during the night.
    Manks has been heard to declare that never again will he attempt such a frightful feat. At half-past two o'clock on Friday morning he refused to rise, cried like a child, and said to the timekeeper, "I shall walk no more," asking, "Do you want to kill me?" But he at length was induced to persevere unto the finish.

Illustrated London News, July-Dec., 1851

Dined after a warm bath; and went for ten minutes, about 7 p.m., into the 'Alhambra', to see one Margaret Douglas, an Australian, who is there walking 1000 miles in 1000 hours. A boarded stage, 1/19th of a mile in circuit, has been built around the centre of the hall, high enough aloft to exhibit the performer: and upon it the woman was pacing as I entered. A stout sturdy little woman of 43; drest in a wideawake, a loose white shirt, a red kilt with a pair of knickerbocker breeches underneath, and red stockings, no petticoats. Round and round she went, like a wild animal in a vast cage; walking about four miles an hour; taking no notice of any one. A dozen visitors or so were looking on; at every round the umpire called its number: at the 19th he called 'Up!' and Margaret Douglas marched straight off the stage & disappeared - for an hour. She has been walking for a week: a monotonous, almost ludicrous performance: shows powers & last, however, & that is why I went to see it . . .

Arthur Munby, Diary, 9 August 1864