Walking either solo or in competition over agreed lengths or times, initially in the 18th and 19th centuries, in Britain, for agreed financial reward for the successful soloist or the winner in a contest, and as a focus for wagers for the betting public. This early form of race-walking was also known as pedestrianism. Race-walking also flourished in Germany, France, Sweden, and Italy, and was promoted in the Soviet Union once it became an Olympic discipline. Within that more formalized context, race-walking has been defined more tightly: in the Olympics, there are 20 kilometre walking races for men and women (from Melbourne 1956 and Sydney 2000 respectively), and a 50 kilometre walk for men (introduced at the 1932 Los Angeles Games). Race-walking has also spawned novelty acts bordering on freakshows, such as Plennie L. Wingo (1895–1993), who in 1931–2 (a period of the Great Depression and diversions such as dance marathons) walked backwards from Santa Monica, California, to Istanbul, Turkey, around 8,000 miles.
Subjects: Sport and Leisure.