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Monday, 29 October 2018

Any contributions - 70's, 80's or 90's ?

Evening Everyone

Taking a bit of a break from the scanning and sorting through folders ( still a ton to put online), but it's over to you all.

Does anyone have any photos or race stories from Ultrarunning in the 70s to the 90s ?  It can be earlier or later as well.

If you do have any photos  or stories please either send them to my email address at pandbessam @ bigpond  .com   ( close gaps) or post them on the Australian Ultramarathon History facebook page at:    

I know there's lots of photos and stories out there from the past, so please share and help expand this website!



Friday, 26 October 2018

Wally Hayward Obituary -2006

Ian Champion has informed me of the death yesterday of Wally Hayward at the age of 97. Ian passed on this obituary to which I have added  a few additional details.

By Andy Milroy

South African distance running icon Wally Hayward passed away on Friday 28th April, 2006 at  the age of 97. Over a 60 year athletic career Wally (Wallace
Henry) Hayward became a hero not only of the South African public, but also of athletics aficionado's throughout the world.

Wally attributed his introduction to running to the gold rush years when he was employed to sprint to peg out the claims on behalf of prospectors. It began as a way of putting a few shillings on to the family table but lead to a deep-seated passion for the sport.

This speed for securing the best plots was reflected first on the track and later on South Africa's roads. Although best known in South Africa for his association with the Comrades marathon, he was as adept in the shorter events where he earned national titles in all distances from 3 miles (4.8km) to the marathon. In 1938 in Sydney, Australia  he won the bronze medal in the British Empire Games 6 miles but was unplaced in the 3 miles.

His debut to Comrades (1930) came at an age of 21 where he became one of the youngest winners, recording a time of 7hours 27 minutes. A return to shorter distances, and active service in North Africa during World War 11, took him out of ultra events for a 20 year period. To Wally, if it was worth doing, it was worth doing well and not surprisingly he was decorated for his war year service

On his return to Comrades in 1950 the 41 year old won in 6 hours 46 minutes, and went on to make it a hat-trick of wins in 1951, setting a new record of
6 hours 14 minutes for the down run.

In 1952 Wally represented South Africa at the Helsinki Olympics in the marathon, preventing his participation in Comrades, but he returned the following year, not only to become the first athlete to break 6 hours, but then to record a series of achievements that would stand for years.

In late 1953 Wally went to England where he set a new record for the London to Brighton (approx 90km) race, and then took a World Record breaking 12 hours 26 minutes for the 100miles from The Bear pub on Bath Rd into Hyde Park Corner in London. Yet again under the guidance of the great Arthur Newton, Wally lined up at Motspur Park just a few weeks later, for a 24 hours race where, against the top British ultra runners, Wally set a new 24 hour world record, at the age of 45. Although this open record stood for years, the standard of his run can best be adjudged by the age group record that lasted over 5 decades, eventually being beaten by a small margin by Scot Don Ritchie. Wally was awarded the Helm's Foundation Award for the Outstanding Sportsman of the Year for the African Continent.  Hayward still holds the South African 24 Hour record.

His success in these three record-breaking runs was marred by the 1954 decision of the South African Athletic and Cycling Association who declared him a professional for allegedly accepting contributions towards the considerable expenses incurred in competing in England. This ban on participating in athletics lasted 20 years until 1974. There is little doubt that had Wally been able to compete he would have made further impression on world marks in the ultra-distances. This was not only Wally's loss, but a loss to world athletics.

His fifth win in the 1954 Comrades was his final major race prior to the expenses controversy, and there is little doubt that additional wins would have been on the cards if he had not been banned.

The talent and determination of Wally Hayward's was exemplified in 1988 when he returned to the Durban to Pietermaritzburg road for the sixth time and at the age of 79 beat over half of the field to finish Comrades in 9 hours 44 minutes. One year later the country watched in awe as the octogenarian crossed the finish line in 10 hours 58 minutes and 3 seconds, beating the then 11 hour cut-off.

Each year Wally could be seen at the side of the Korkie 56km route giving his trademark thumbs up and encouraging runners as they passed by. He became a traditional figure at the end of Comrades awarding the cherished green number to those who had completed their 10th run.

In one of those thought provoking twists of timing his passing, has come in a week when it has been announced that the London to Brighton race will no longer be run, and only four days prior to the annual Wally Hayward races (10km, 21km, 42.2), which will be held on Monday May 1 in Gauteng.

Wally was a motivation and inspiration to many runners, he was a legend in his own lifetime and his story will continue to encourage and motivate future runners and Comrades. Born and competing before the emergence of electronic media, the enormity of Wally's achievements was to some extent short-changed. In recent years the exploits and life of Wally Hayward was captured in a biography - Just Call Me Wally (Penprint)

World wide the names of Don Ritchie, Bruce Fordyce, Yiannos Kouros and Wally Hayward head the list in any discussion of the greatest ultra-runners of all time, but for versatility of distance, for longevity and taking account of the 20 year loss due to a controversial banning, Wally Hayward was the greatest of them all.


Thursday, 25 October 2018

Hobart to Queenstown Relay - 1951

Coburg 24hr Relay Run - 1954

Wally Hayward - 24hr in England - 1953

New Zealand Walking Legend


‘The leader of a one-man tramping club’ was how Alf Reed, better known as A H Reed, once described himself. Early in the twentieth century, Reed established what became the publishing powerhouse known as AH & AW Reed in Dunedin, and by the 1950s, the company, headed by Reed’s capable nephew Wyclif (known as Clif), was the most important book publisher in the country. Reed helped New Zealanders appreciate their history and country, and was a prolific author himself.
Born in England, Reed came to New Zealand in 1887, aged 11, when his family immigrated during the hard depression of that decade. They found things little easier here, with gum digging occupying their lives for several years. But young Alf planned a better life, firstly by teaching himself short-hand, then by joining an Auckland typewriter firm. After he took the franchise to Dunedin, and began printing religious texts, the company A H Reed was established.

George Perdon - 24hr Run - July 68

83 year old runs 20 miles - 1949

Bert just keeps on walking - 1946

Some photos from Bob Fickel - Late 80s

Some priceless photos here from Bob Fickel in the late 80s.  Westfield Run and 24hr!  Thanks Bob.

Marathon runners from Scotland to England - 1947

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Adventurer missing - 1926

Trio walking around Australia - 1921

George Bould walking around Australia - 1928

Nurse finishes 38 mile walk - 1927

Walking effort in Bathurst - 1912

100 miles in Victoria - 1918

Lithgow to Bathurst Walk - 1918

45 miles in 9 hours - 1911

24hr Australian Walking Record - 1908

6 Day race - May 1881

William Edwards update - 1880

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Herbert Hedemann – the tough versatile veteran

The story of Herbert Alexander Hedemann as a distance runner is closely bound up with the development in Australia as an enduring professional running scene.

The Stawell Gift started 120 years ago as an athletics competition between miners in the Victorian goldfields in Australia.  Held every Easter in the small town of Stawell, three hours west of Melbourne,  the  distance race  was over one mile, 'The Miners' Handicap', first run in 1880,. That first mile in 1880 was won by C. Astall from J. Croughan and T. Bennett (Scratch) in a field of 14. The winner was probably Stawell's first 'dark horse' because back marker Croughan and scratch-man Bennett could not catch him in the final dash. No time was taken.

Right from its earliest years Stawell catered for all distances and athletes; in 1896 it first staged a three mile handicap which was changed to two miles in 1900. Winner of the 1896 three miles was H. Hopper from A. V. Fosse and T. Ballinger. His time was 14.59.6, winning margin was several yards and winner collected £14.

Herbert Hedemann was  born on the 10th November 1881 in Sydney. When he showed promise as a distance runner, the professional ranks must have attracted him. His close contemporary Arthur Postle, the famous Australian professional sprinter made his impact on the running scene, some five years earlier than Hedemann, and Jack Donaldson. another famous professional sprinter, who was five years younger, also was competing internationally by 1909.

It is possible that for family reasons Herb Hedemann delayed his move in the professional rankings until he was nearly 30 years old.  However when he finally did so, he became recognised as one of the greatest Australian distance runners. He recorded a feat which has still to be beaten - winning the Federation Mile and Grampians Two Miles in the one day at the 1912 and 1913 Easter Gift meetings  

When in 1913 Hedemann won the Federation Handicap mile event at Stawell,  
second was Charles E Bergmeier. Professional sprinter Jack Donaldson described the then desperate situation in Australian professional athletics, 'With matches as scarce as hens' teeth and handicaps almost hopeless’. After the Stawell race Hedemann and Bergmeier decided to seek their fortunes on the more flourishing and therefore more  attractive  British professional running  circuit.

An golden opportunity presented itself virtually as soon as Hedemann stepped off the boat in Britain. In September 1913 at the Powderhall Grounds, Edinburgh,  Canadian Hans Holmer had beaten the then World Mile Champion, Frank Kanaly (USA).

[Frank Kanaly had first become prominent between the years 1899 to 1901 when competing as an amateur, winning the US national five mile championship. In 1902 he had turned professional and in the next five years held US national titles in the half-mile, the mile, the two mile and the five mile events. After his great success in America,   Kanaly decided to widen his horizons  and competed abroad  for several seasons adding the world's championship in the half-mile, the mile and the mile and a half.

Hans Holmer came from Halifax, Nova Scotia and from 1907 onwards, when he won first the Mayor's Cup and then the Natal Day 6 Mile road  race, was known as the leading runner in the Canadian Atlantic Provinces. He had failed to finish in the Toronto Canadian Olympic trial in June 1908, but that year won the Round the Bay race in 1:51:16

When the Marathon Craze hit following the Dorando disqualification in the 1908 Olympics, Holmer had quickly turned professional and won six consecutive marathon victories. After losing several races through his excessive initial pace, Holmer had set a world marathon record on the Edinburgh Powderhall track of 2:32:21.8   on the 3rd January 1911.  In 1912 he had claimed the world marathon title in Berlin, but lost his world record to the Finn Willie Kolehmainen. One source credits him as being the 10 miles world champion in 1913]

Hedemann had reached England by the time the World Mile Championships had been won by Hans Holmer and he immediately challenged the Canadian for the title. They were matched at the Snipe Inn ground at Audenshaw, Manchester, for a purse of £100.  The venue was selected by the Lancashire Pedestrian Syndicate, who became the promoters of the match.  Over two thousand spectators turned up, despite an important football match between Salford and Wigan on a neighbouring ground.

The half a mile track at the Snipe Inn ground was usually used for trotting races by horses and consequently was rather soft on top, although  brushes and heavy roller had been  used to make a better surface. Both Holmer and Hedemann were satisfied with the track, knowing a fast time was out of the question. The then professional world mile record was 4:12.75 by Englishman Walter George, set some twenty-seven years earlier.

 Holmer was trained for the match by the famous miler, George B. Tincler, while Hedemann was prepared by his fellow Australian Charles Bergmeier.

On the day of the race Holmer won the toss and chose the inside. He stood up in what was called  the old style while Hedemann went down into a crouch start. Immediately the gun was fired, Hedemann went to the inside, and was to keep that position throughout the race. With Holmer running at his shoulder Hedemann ran relaxed.  At half way, Holmer tried to spurt past him, but Hedemann held his position, and it became clear that Holmer lacked the pace to take the lead.

Some 300 yards from the finish line, Hedemann began to sprint, opening a gap of nearly five yards. Despite Holmer's desperate efforts in the last 100 yards, Hedemann hung on, despite being exhausted. He won by three yards in 4 minutes 34 seconds. Holmer at once congratulated the new world mile champion.

After Hedemann beat Holmer, he heard rumours that Harold Wilson, the 1908 Olympic silver medallist at 1500 metres and current English mile champion, was claiming that he was entitled to the world championship title.  This was despite the fact that Wilson had been beaten for the world title by Frank Kanaly in Blackpool, [who subsequently had been beaten by Holmer] Wilson was then currently running in South Africa and defeating all opposition.

On hearing this Hedemann decided to go to South Africa and meet Wilson in a mile race.  Once there he engaged the famous South African trainer, Tom Christian, to prepare him. The match was set to take place on the 28th February 1914 at the Lord's ground, Durban. Wilson jumped into the lead at the start and set a fast pace. This suited Hedemann who lengthened his stride and took over the lead. At the halfway point, Hedemann slackened the pace and Wilson re-took the lead. At the bell, Hedemann took the lead once more, but it was not until halfway around the bend that the little Englishman began to move up. Hedemann responded - three times Wilson tried to take the lead, each time the bigger and stronger Australian (1.72 metres/62 kg)  just lengthened his stride, to win by four yards in a time of 4 minutes 39.2 seconds. Hedemann was the undisputed champion of the world.  He was never beaten in a match race on even terms.

It is not known what Hedemann did after this win.  Powderhall and Pedestrianism, the book on professional running in Britain states that " a strong endeavour was made to maintain the recreative diversions of the people throughout the years of strife." So the Powderhall meetings went on as usual. The "marathon" was held annually and the entries had a good international spread, including Hedemann’s former opponent Hans Holmer. Jack Donaldson, Hedemann’s Australian contemporary, sprinted against Applegarth at Salford, England  in 1915. I have found no mention of Hedemann defending his world title, or even competing. However elsewhere professional runners in other parts of Britain ran out of competitions, Cumbria being a good example. With so many young fit men conscripted for war service, meetings would lack strength in depth.

Perhaps having got to Durban in 1914, because of the War or some other reason, Hedemann decided to stay there. Possibly having achieved his ambition of becoming World Champion, he gave up professional athletics and settled down - he would have been 32. We do know that after the First World War, Hedemann was in  South Africa and apparently living in Durban, the large port on the Indian Ocean. With a pleasant climate and one of the largest open air swimming baths in the world, it was an ideal location for the former professional athlete.

In  late 1925 Hedemann decided to immigrate to the United States. Durban seems to have been fairly prosperous at this time, so the reasons for the move are not clear.  He travelled by ship first to Britain, where he obtained a visa for the United States in London. On the 4th February 1926 he sailed for New York on the passenger ship SS Olympic from Southampton. The ship, the twin of the ill-fated Titantic, had actually been built before her sister ship, however reassuringly she was known as “Old Reliable”.

 By 1926 the massive four funnelled SS Olympic had been converted to oil burning and could carry close to two and a half thousand passengers. It was said that she was was the largest British built liner afloat  Sailing at around 22 knots, the SS Olympic would complete the trans-Atlantic voyage in under six days. 

On the list of passengers, Hedemann gave his occupation is given as `athlete’., so perhaps the now veteran Hedemann hoped to revive his former career.

Hedemann settled in New York and soon married a widow with children.  Now 45 years old, he had decided to put down roots at last. However supporting his new family was not to be easy. There was no  professional running scene in the United States at this time.

By early 1928 Herbert Hedemann was broke and he and his wife and five children were reduced to living in one room but possible salvation was at hand..  In late 1927 the promoter C.C. Pyle had come up with the idea of an annual Trans-America footrace, using the newly completed Route 66 from Los Angeles to Chicago and then onward to New York. The entry fee was $25 with food and lodging provided by Pyle. The 1928 Trans-Continental race offered Herbert Hedemann a lifeline, a chance to re-join the professional running scene once more, and perhaps even a way out of poverty.

The 1928 race was said by its promoter to be the first of an annual series of races across America, like the famous French Paris-Strasbourg walk and the Tour de France cycle race. Hedemann, out of condition after at least  ten years away from the professional circuit, was to use the first race as preparation and experience for the future events.  Unlike his fellow Australian, Mike McNamara, Hedemann managed to complete the race, reputedly finishing 38th. The promoter of the race, C C Pyle was not able to come up with the prize money but another promoter, Tex Rickard and the Californian millionaire father of one of the finishers, ensured the money was paid.

Many of the veterans of the 1928 race decided to provide their own handlers for the 1929 race, and invested their prize money in a vehicle for a handler. Hedemann and his fellow countryman, McNamara, pooled their capital and built their own motorised caravan.  As Pete Guvuzzi, one of the strongest runners in both races, often remarked, “The first race was an amateur event. The second was professional.”

Hedemann was a very different competitor in the 1929 race, placing 6th, 7th, 2nd in the first three stages.  Hedemann would have taken the overall lead on the fourth day if he had not been misdirected off course and lost 40 minutes.

On Day 5 in  the 37 miles stage from Wilmington to Havre de Grace Hedemann was locked in battle with the much younger Paul Simpson. For 30 miles they matched strides until eventually Simpson was forced to slow to a walk.  The bearded Hedemann won  in 4:44:45, and moved into the lead on cumulative time. However his early push had been premature, and other more cautious and prudent runners now began to come into their own. On the sixth day stage, Hedemann dropped to 18th, and within five days was down to 10th place on the elapsed time.

Hedemann overcame his inclination to push hard at every stage, and soon became established in the 7th to 10th slot in the cumulative elapsed time, alongside McNamara. This was no mean feat, racing experienced ultra veterans over stages that could vary between 30 and 60 miles a day. The trick was to keep a close watch on the runners immediately in front and behind you on the cumulative elapsed time, ensuring that the latter did not eat into your lead over  them, and seeing if you could gain on those in front without expending too much energy.  Pushing too hard on one stage could be costly if it had a detrimental effect for several days afterwards.

Occasionally, like on the 31st day, Hedemann would finish in the top three, covering the 33 miles from Springfield to Miller in 4:35:05.  The shorter distances suited him, as when he won the 32 mile stage from Oakcliff, Dallas to Fort Worth  in 4:20:40 on Day 42, but having said that two days later he was second over a 52.2 mile stage, clocking 7:25:50, also finishing second the next day on a rare sub-marathon, 24.7 mile stage, and the next over 37 miles. But the gap between him and Harry Abramowitz, one place ahead of him, was measured in hours; Abramowitz tried never to let Hedemann get too far away from him in a stage, so unless Abramowitz became injured or ill,  moving up involved Hedemann taking the risk of over-extending himself and suffering the consequences in the following days.

Hedemann and McNamara were suffering under a major disadvantage. Their motorised caravan had broken down and they were the only leading runners without their own trainer.

When eventually Abramowitz did crack, Hedemann was then in direct competition with his fellow Australian Mike McNamara. Days 72 and 73 were classic examples of race tactics with both men coming in 5th place together. When Abramowitz attempted to regain his place, Hedemann stuck with the younger man no matter what. One knowledgeable spectator described the courage of the old veteran the greatest he had ever witnessed in sport. Although Abramowitz was to win the 70 mile 76th stage by three hours, it was too late, he too far behind to beat the two Australians.

At the end of the epic race of 3,635 miles/5850 km which had lasted 79 days, the two Australians were separated by just three hours, McNamara with a time of 627:45:28  in 7th and Hedemann in 8th with 631:23:48.  Many of the runners had lost up to fourteen pounds/6.5kg in weight.

They should have been well rewarded for all their efforts – with McNamara receiving $2000 and Hedemann $1750. Instead they were offered worthless cheques.  Pyle had run out of money.

Many of the Trans-continental runners returned home from Los Angeles, but some of the elite performers  tried to make a living as professional runners.  In July 1929 a two man team 6 Day race was arranged at the Ascot Speedway Stadium, Los Angeles. The aim was to surpass the mark made by the French team of Orphee and Cabot set in 1909 at the Madison Square Gardens. Johnny Salo and Sammy Richman emerged as the winners, with 749.5 miles.  Hedemann was part of one team that clocked up 424 miles in the 6 days. The runners each received $5, less than a cent a mile. 

Several of the Pyle runners kept in touch, letting each other know of professional racing opportunities, such as 15 mile events and snowshoe races in Canada. Unlike Hedemann, these men appear to have been unattached and did not have his family responsibilities. The two-man 6 day team race in Los Angeles appears to have been his final professional race.  Having twice deserted his family in search of elusive success as a professional runner, Hedemann probably felt  it would be irresponsible to do it again, especially as he was now nearing 50 years old.  Arthur Newton, his contemporary,  could afford to trade on his established reputation in the hope of professional prize and appearance money, but he had no ties or responsibilities.

Subsequent correspondence between the former Pyle runners shows Hedemann was still living in Los Angeles. But he eventually did make his way back to New York to his wife and family.

As the Depression got worse so the few race opportunities for the remaining professional Pyle runners finally disappeared anyway, and the rest of the runners were forced to turn to other occupations.

What actually happened to Herbert Hedemann afterwards is largely unknown. By the 1940s he was living in East 53rd Street, New York and working for the largest Real Estate  broker in Manhattan, Douglas Elliman & Co and worked from the Park Avenue office. (Elliman was a long established company, founded in 1911.) There had been a  massive improvement in Hedemann’s financial situation.

With the attack on Pearl Harbour, and the threat to his Australian homeland, Hedemann was determined to do his bit, and joined the equivalent of the Home Guard at the age of 60. On his eventual retirement, he relocated to Los Angeles in California  According to the Stawell Athletic Club, he was a regular visitor to the Stawell Easter gift at least up to the mid sixties, traveling from the USA. At that time, he would have been in his eighties, so he obviously was still active into his old age, with the funds to pay for frequent trans-Pacific trips.

Herbert Hedemann died on the 22nd September 1976 in Los Angeles, California, in his mid nineties.  He was the longest lived of the Pyle runners, although his greatest opponent from the 1929 race, much younger Harry Abramowitz, was still around in  1985.

In 1958 the Stawell Athletic Club named their annual Mile competition, the Herb Hedemann Mile, and the event has been won by several distinguished professional runners since. It is a fitting memorial for one of Australia’s great distance runners, but ironically perhaps his greatest performance, racing across America, is largely forgotten.

Monday, 22 October 2018

O Leary in Sydney - 1883

Harriman in Sydney - 1886

Upcoming match between Edwards and O Leary - 1883

Brisbane 24hr - 1880

24hr race in Goulburn - 1880

48hr race in Melbourne - Nov 1880

Edwards v Hart - challenge accepted - 1884

Edwards v Harriman Challenge - 1882

Australian Pedestrian results and reports - 1881

6 Day Race at Melbourne

6 Day race at the Hippodrome

Miss Phillips - Pedestrian effort

Burns wins 6 day race - 1881

6 Day race - May 1881

Edwards at Gawler - 1881

Edwards wins in Adelaide - April 1881

Adelaide Pedestrian Tournament - Dec 1881

Event clashes - 1881

Edwards off to New Zealand - 1883

24hr race New Zealand - 1885

Pedestrian News - 1897 review

Norseman to Esperence effort - 1896

Ultrarunning in the 1800s

by Phil Essam

One to be definitely extended upon!

Ultrarunning in the 1800’s


Phil Essam

As part of my interest in documenting the history of  Australian Ultramarathons I have been delving into the scant information available about the sport in the 1800’s.  A lot of the information has been placed at . There is a lot more information to e found and recorded about ultra running in the 1800’s, but hopefully this article will give you the reader a short idea what the era was like for ultra running and walking.

Ultrarunning and  Ultrawalking as such did not exist in it’s present form and name. The 1800’s referred  to anything athletic as “Pedestrianism” .  Pedestrianism was basically running and walking foot racing and was largely conducted in a carnival atmosphere. Betting was the order of the day and races were conducted from 60 yeards to 1000 miles.  Pedestrianism started in England before spreading to the colonies of America and Australia.

Much like football and cricket today, pedestrianism was a respite from the day to day drudgery of living  in the colonies and the uncertainty of their existence. It was entertainment in it’s purest form. Track cycling and boxing were also sports of the times as well.

There are six names that come up in the available information about the era. Those names are W Edwards, W Baker, Allen McKean, Clifford, JAssenheim and Daniel O Leary. They raced between distances of 12 hours and 1000 miles and the sport seemed to have venues between Melbourne, Sydney, Ballarat,  Bathurst and Adelaide. The venues at Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney were listed as being Exhibition Buildings. This suggests that the races were part of a bigger event including cycling, boxing and other activities.

From the available information one can see that small cash prizes were awarded at the events. These included the 30 pounds that Assenheim was awarded for beating Wright in a 12 hour event in 1882 and the 200 pounds that a Miss Philips was awarded for winning  a six day race in Sydney. This suggests that most of the pedestrians were semi – professional and were able to eke out a meagre existence from their achievements around the country.

Out of the information that I have been able to piece together there are two events that really attracted my attention. The first one was the achievement of W Edwards to walk 110 miles in 24hrs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 1878. I only had the time and date for this achievement, but thanks to the MCG Trust I was able to find out extra information on that mark.

This is part of an article that was in the The Australasian, Saturday December 21, 1878, p.780.
“W. Edwards, the champion long-distance walker, yesterday evening commenced his arduous undertaking to walk 110 miles in 24 hours. The place selected for performing the feat is the Melbourne Cricket-ground, an oblong walk having been constructed in front of the grand stand, and slightly encroaching on the green. The walk is composed of ordinary planking nailed to joists laid on the ground. A canvas covering is stretched on poles overhead, to screen the pedestrian from the sun.

The rink was measured yesterday afternoon by Mr. J. S. Jenkins, town surveyor for Richmond, who certified that it was 117yds. 1ft. 0½in. round, so that it takes 15 laps to make a mile, and Edwards will have to walk round the ring 1650 times before he completes his task.

Shortly before the time for starting Edwards emerged from the tent in the centre of the rink in his walking dress, which is rather a peculiar one, the tights being of black satin, trimmed with delicate white lace. He is a well-made young man, 26 years of age, 5ft. 7½in. high, and weighs in his walking dress 9st. 8lb. He appears to be in the perfection of condition.

Exactly at 6 o'clock he started off with a light springy step, going over the ground at a good pace, and with great ease. He made the first miles in 1o minutes and 10 seconds, and on finding the time he was making he eased a little, and did the second mile in 11 minutes 7 seconds, and was keeping on at that pace. His rule is to walk about 30 miles, and then take a rest for about 20 minutes.”

This was the follow up article in the The Australasian, Saturday December 28, 1878, p.813.
Edwards ... successfully concluded his task on Saturday evening, having six minutes to spare ... Although a heavy shower or two fell after midnight on Friday, the pedestrian had splendid weather on Saturday, but the attendance was meagre in the extreme, not more than 300 persons being present, and most of these were members of the club.
Commencing at 6 p.m. on Friday, he walked the first mile in 10m. 10s.; but easing up a bit in the second, he took 11m. 7s., and kept on at a nice swinging gait. The first 10 miles were done in 1h. 51m., the second in 1h. 52m., the third in 2h., the fourth in 2h. 21m., the fifth in 1h. 59m., and the sixth in 1h. 52½m.
Edwards rested for six minutes at the end of 50 miles, and when 60 were completed he rested for a longer time, and took some light food and refreshment. At 21 minutes to 9 a.m. he had completed 70 miles, and he did the next 10 in 2h. 3m. He rested for about 15 minutes at that stage, and then re-commenced walking, and by 11 minutes to 4 p.m. had accomplished 100 miles. There was then over two hours in which to do the last 10 miles, and so he consented to stand for the purpose of being photographed. The remaining 10 miles were travelled at an average of about 12 minutes per mile, the last lap being finished at 5.54 p.m., or 6 minutes before the 24 hours had elapsed.

The second achievement in the archives that really sparked my imagination  was Allan McKean completing 1000 miles in 1000 hours in Melbourne in 1859. This was made more remarkable by the fact that it was the second time that he had completed this achievement in the same year. Here is an extract of the newspaper reporting of that achievement.

The Mudgee Newspaper, January 18, 1859
THE GREAT WALKING MATCH AGAINST TIME. – On Monday night the 3rd inst., at 20 minutes past 10 the pedestrian, Allan McKean, accomplished his herculean task of walking 1000 miles in 1000 hours. For the last few days this event has caused great excitement in the sporting world, although there appeared to be only one opinion, namely, that McKean was possessed of sufficient powers of endurance to complete his task. The Olympic Theatre, which has been the arena on which this match was performed, was last evening crammed to excess, there being, as near as it is possible to form an opinion, between 500 and 600 persons present, every available corner being taken possession of. Allan McKean, it will be remembered, accomplished the feat of walking 1000 miles in 1000 hours at Ballarat a few weeks only before he commenced his second attempt in Melbourne, on Tuesday, November 23, at a quarter to 8 o’clock a.m., and it was generally thought that he had not allowed himself sufficient rest, but the event has proved that he did not overrate his capabilities. The shortest time in which he has walked a mile has been 8 min. 40 secs., and the longest time 26 mins. and 44 secs., that being during the period at which he was suffering a very severe sore on the sole of the foot. He completed his thousandth mile in fifteen minutes thirty-nine seconds, and appeared to be as little fatigued as when he had accomplished one-half of his allotted distance. Upon the completion of the 27th round, he was most loudly cheered, and it was some time before sufficient silence could be obtained for the result to be made known. – Argus of Tuesday.

As you can see the reporting on both events tells us a lot about the 1800s and they provide a valuable insight into the sport of pedestrianism in Australia in the 1800’s. As part of my quest to document the history of the sport in this country I will be exploring the archives of the newspapers of the time to try and find out more information on the races that took place and the personalities that were involved in the sport. It would be nice to ascertain the family background of some of the names, wether they were born in Australia and where did they live in Australia. But that will probably take a few years yet.
Phil Essam

Walking against time - 1892

Leslie Wilson - Australian Pedestrian

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Clarke v McKenny - 1896

Pedestrian feats - 1898

24hr in Adelaide - 1892

Betting killing Pedestrians - 1890

Rowell v Hughes - 1891

Australian Pedestrian results and reports - 1899

Dr Benier in Brisbane - Walking around the World

Death of a Pedestrian - 1899

Gilbert in Rockhampton - 1899

Schilling in Hobart - 1899

Global Pedestrian on Fraud Charges - 1899

Globe Pedestrian on Fraud charges - 1899

Schilling in Hobart - 1899

William Edwards - Champion Pedestrian

Champion Pedestrian and Shifty Conman


Edwards to walk 105 miles - 1875

Letter from Edwards - 1875

Seven mile sprint - 1875

Edwards to walk at the MCG - 1878

110 miles in 24hrs - 1878

Edwards in Bathurst - 1878

Edwards News - 1878

Edwards in Wagga - 1879

Edwards race - Pedestrian tournament - November 1879


William Edwards update - 1880

William Edwards achievement - August 1880

Edwards wins in Adelaide - April 1881

Edwards v Harriman - 1882

William Edwards article - 1883

William Edwards summary - 1883

William Edwards - Assault Case - 1883

William Edwards - wife deserter

William Edwards - date unknown

Letter by William Edwards - 1884

Edwards in Perth - 1885

Various Performances - Dates unknown