When Walking Was King
It was called pedestrianism, and it involved people walking around a dirt track for six days at a time. The races lasted for 144 hours (with participants napping on cots), included heavy wagering and winners (the celebrity athletes of their day) could take home as much as $425, 000 (in today's currency).
At first, I checked my calendar. Could this be an April Fools joke? But no, it's still March. And yes, pedestrianism was a genuine phenomenon.
The author's point was cautionary: Pedestrianism was in part done in by doping scandals. At one time in our nation's history no one could have predicted that it wouldn't have remained the nation's pastime forever.
But I take something different from the piece. For a walker in the suburbs, it's funny proof of how once walking was king.
(Wikipedia: An 1836 illustration of a "Walking Wager", from Peter Piper's Practical Principles of Plain and Perfect Pronunciation, by Anonymous, Philadelphia.)