July 12, 1809
In England, renowned pedestrian Robert Barclay Allardice (widely known as Captain Barclay) completed a mile (kilometer)-per-hour walk of 1,000 miles (1,609.3 kilometers) in 1,000 consecutive hours in the town of Newmarket. When he finished his ambitious walk at 3:37 on that Wednesday afternoon, he did so – in the words of an 1813 book written by Walter Thom – “amidst thousands of spectators.”
Barclay, who was also called “The Celebrated Pedestrian,” had already achieved a great deal of fame for various long-distance walking ventures by the time of his 1,000-mile (1609.3-kilometer) endeavor in Newmarket. He traveled 64 miles (103 kilometers) in 10 hours by foot from London to Newmarket in 1802, for example, and undertook a round-trip walk of 100 miles (160.9 kilometers) in 19 hours between Ury and Crathynaird in Scotland in 1806.
Barclay’s endurance event of 1,000 miles (1,609.3 kilometers) in 1,000 hours in Newmarket would turn out to be his most acclaimed walking accomplishment. The 39-year-old Barclay began the event on June 1, and during the 42 days and nights that followed, he had to walk one mile each and every hour. His average time for walking one mile (1.6 kilometers) ranged from 14 minutes and 54 seconds during the first week to 21 minutes and four seconds during the final week.
“He walked in a sort of lounging gait, without apparently making any extraordinary exertion, scarcely rising his feet more than two or three inches above the ground,” noted Thom in his 1813 account. “Sometimes he walked in a flannel jacket, and sometimes in a loose gray coat, but he always used strong shoes and lamb-wool stockings.”
More than 10,000 spectators ended up watching Barclay as he made it through his hour-by-hour pedestrian effort between June 1 and July 12. Barclay was awarded a substantial amount of prize money for his successful effort, and also further bolstered his reputation as one of the leading pedestrians of his era.
For more information on Robert Barclay Allardice, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Barclay_Allardice.
Walter Thom’s 1813 book about Robert Barclay Allardice is available at https://www.gutenberg.org/files/55644/55644-h/55644-h.htm.