In the late 1880s, walking marathons were all the rage
There were other races. Especially popular was a men’s round-the-clock six-day race: The competitors walked from just after midnight on Monday, June 10, until just before midnight the following Saturday, stopping only occasionally to rest inside tents within the oval track.
“The largest number of spectators that has yet been attracted by the pedestrian exhibitions was present,” the Post reported. Fourteen men competed.
One entrant, an Englishman named Alfred Elson, was a veteran of long-distance walks who, like many pedestrians, considered alcohol a stimulant. He imbibed liberally the first two days of the race, and by Tuesday night he was so drunk he fell headfirst over the railing that ringed the track, rendering himself unconscious.
By Friday, only three men remained: Dan Dillon, Martin Horan and, far behind, poor concussed Elson. They were a bedraggled bunch: sleep deprived, dehydrated, likely malnourished and perilously close to delirium. Dillon won the race with 454 miles. Horan was second with 450. Elson was a distant third with 239.