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The Pedestriennes: America’s Forgotten Superstars by Harry Hall tells the story of the nineteenth century sport of endurance walking.  More specifically there were a few female athletes that dominated the sport – though the book does mention a male version of the sport Hall focuses on the ladies’ achievements.

The sport itself, pedestrianism or endurance walking, had a variety of “rules” in that in some events competitors walked a certain number of miles in an hour (1 mile every hour for 1000 hours for example) or half-miles walked in half hours, or quarter miles in quarter hours…you get the idea.  Other events were long distance events with walkers walking a certain number of miles in a certain number of hours…and so on.

Either way these were taxing athletic feats.  These events were mostly done on indoor tracks, had judges to make sure the number of laps / number of quarter- half- or full miles were recorded correctly, and even had resting tents for the athletes set up for the competitors.

Hall has written an eminently readable account of the sport.  He has obviously done his research and is a talented writer covering the more notable events in the ladies sport as well as introducing us to the major players.  His treatment of several of the competitions made for compelling reading.  The only drawbacks are that there are no table of contents or index to be able to find topics / personalities quickly.  However, if you are looking for an enjoyable read on a little known subject I highly recommend.

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