95: Six-Day Race Part 4: First Six-Day Race (1875)


Manage episode 314564895 series 2680589
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By Davy Crockett You can read, listen, or watch P.T. Barnum featured ultrarunners (pedestrians) in 1874 who were attempting to reach 500 miles in six days, to bring paying patrons into his massive indoor Hippodrome in New York City 24-hours a day. Even though the first attempts by Edward Payson Weston and Edward Mullen came up short (see part 3), America became fascinated by these very unusual efforts of extreme endurance. New York Life Building, where the Hippodrome once stood. But with the failures, critics cried out that it was all just a money grab on the gullible public. It wasn’t a true race. It was said to be similar to watching “a single patient horse attached to a rural cider-press” going in circles for six days until it dropped. Experienced athletes and educated doctors believed that walking or running 500 miles in six days was an impossible feat. P.T. Barnum, “a sucker is born every minute,” did not care what the critics thought, knowing he had a winning spectacle to spotlight. He was right and would put on the first six-day race in history, billed as "the greatest competitive trial of endurance ever attempted." Help is needed to support the Ultrarunning History Podcast, website, and Hall of Fame. Please consider becoming a patron of ultrarunning history. Help to preserve this history by signing up to contribute a few dollars each month through Patreon. Visit https://ultrarunninghistory.com/member P.T. Barnum promotes Professor Judd’s Six-Day Attempt By December 1874, Barnum’s circus was back in full operation in New York in the Hippodrome for the winter season. It was lit by many lanterns, featured chariot races, and presented a menagerie of 600 “wild beasts.” Barnum turned to a walker other than Weston and hosted “Professor” John R. Judd (1836-1911) at the Hippodrome. Judd had been a gym owner and trainer from Buffalo, New York but recently had moved to New York City. He had gained some fame training boxers and pedestrians and had previously issued a challenge for a walking match against Edward Payson Weston, which was ignored. Judd's former hometown wrote, “Judd is excessively muscular. His ‘professorship’ being not anything in the line of learning but simply that of gymnastics.” Another observer wrote, “He is a splendidly formed man, but with a figure better fitted for boxing or wrestling than for walking. He moves heavily and ploddingly, and on account of his great muscular development, he is obliged to keep his whole body in constant motion. He has great powers of endurance but is a slow walker.” Judd’s true background was suspect. He had been born in England and became very athletic. He claimed to have become a professor of Physical Culture, and trained the Prince of Wales and other royalty. In reality, as noted by those in Buffalo, New York, he was just a gym owner and trainer who liked to do exhibitions of feats of strength. His pedestrian experience was limited. Once he walked 105 miles in four days and claimed to have accomplished other long walks under an alias of John Davison. In 1871, there was a Pedestrian by that name that attempted to walk four days without eating or sleeping at Littlerock Arkansas City Hall. Judd had been announcing that he would do a six and a half day walk in the Empire Skating Rink in New York City. Barnum hired him to instead do it in the Hippodrome. The track was measured carefully the week before the event where Judd put on a five-mile exhibition walk, including walking backwards while carrying an anvil. On December 8, 1874, Judd started his attempt but was said to have made very poor progress on day one. Judd believed in holding a steady pace and could succeed if he walked 77 miles a day. His plans were different than those who tried before him. “He will carry a 100-pound anvil for a quarter of a mile on the fifth and six days and half a mile on the last half day.” On day four he had reached 224 miles when he stoppe...

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