Rather than wearing skintight pants and jogging around a silly diamond, athletes in the 1870s would walk hundreds of miles as a nail-biting, bet-placing American public looked on. That’s right: Pedestrians were the original sports heroes.
That’s the subject of the new book Pedestrianism: When Watching People Walk Was America's Favorite Spectator Sport. Author Matthew Algeo dishes about how athletes would walk 500 miles’ worth of loops around what’s now Madison Square Garden, only stopping on Sundays. A cheering crowd would bet on who’d drop out or hit 100 miles first.
Gizmodo’s Alissa Walker has the dirt:
Pedestrianism had celebrity athletes and lucrative sponsorship agreements -- this is where corporate sponsorship began! -- and even doping scandals. Athletes got high on coca leaves and champagne, just like today.