Monday, October 31, 2011
November 2, 1877 --- The Astley Belt
The Yank (right), known to his countrymen for walking from Maine to Chicago, took to the boards with his customary arrogance, engaging in his "usual buffoonery." On Day 3, however, a twisted ankle hobbled the great man. Though he returned to the course valiantly, demonstrating "that remarkable freshness for which he is characterised," Weston soon faded. The race came down to a two man battle between Corkey and "Blower" Brown, the latter's nickname coming from his distinctive and quite audible breathing patterns. Brown held a two-mile lead on Day 3 but Corkey - staying on the track for five hours straight – seized the lead by midnight of Day 4 and held it the rest of the way.
In addition to the ample prize money, Astley upgraded the sport by pampering the "pedestrians" with commodious tents for their periodic rest periods and providing hot food and medical care as well. The expense is returned by increasing public interest. A raucous crowd awaits the finish; The Times correspondent reports they "seemed to be well-acquainted with the principle contestants, judging from the manner which they cheered their respective favorites."
In the end, Corkey took the £500 first prize with a total of 521 miles (87 miles a day on average!). Brown is "walker-up" with 506 miles. Weston disappoints his partisans with a lackluster total of 365 miles.
He was recovered by January to begin a bid to walk 2000 miles in 1000 hours. Stepping off from London in driving snow, he made it 75 miles to Folkestone the first day. Alas, hampered by another injury - he was knocked down by overenthusiastic fans in Wimborne Minster - Weston fell 22 miles short of his goal.
Posted by Tom Hughes at 4:23 PM