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  • Distance Running in the 18th Century

    http://sport.guardian.co.uk/athletics/c ... 44,00.html

    Do any of you guys have more info on this?

    Clay

  • #2
    Re: Distance Running in the 18th Century

    Peter Radford is not a kook, of course, but this whole story is pure nonsense. These "times" cannot be compared in any way, shape, or form to modern times--the conditions and accuracy of timing are simply unknowable. In addition, many of these road performances were run on downhill courses. I'd guess that the best pros of the late 18th century were 4:25-4:30 type milers, but probably no better. Walter George ran 4:12-3/4 in 1886 (under near ideal conditions) and no one came close to this time for nearly 30 more years. It's just foolishness to pretend that guys were running 4 minute miles over 200 years ago. It did not happen.

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    • #3
      Re: Distance Running in the 18th Century

      I'd like to know if there is any info on the sort of training these 18th century runners did. That would at least give us a clue to whether sub-4 was possible. We do know, for example, that runners have run very respectable times for the mile with hardly any training, and so if someone in the past had developed an almost modern training system then why not a sub-4 mile. This all fits in, of course, with the exciting idea of "lost" knowledge. Of a forgotten "golden age".

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      • #4
        Re: Distance Running in the 18th Century

        > This all
        >fits in, of course, with the exciting idea of "lost" knowledge. Of a
        >forgotten "golden age".

        you will find it

        beyond the pillars of Hercules...

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        • #5
          Re: Distance Running in the 18th Century

          I agree with Kuha, the whole thing is ridiculous.
          The most egregious is the timing. He mentions Harrison's clocks as if they were commonplace and would be used as stopwatches. That seems highly unlikely, as they were few in number and very expensive.

          P.S. I found this on the National Maritime Museum web site.

          'James Cook (circa 1770) used one of the copies of H4 on his voyages, although the cost of the clocks was so high that the Lunar Distances method would also go on to be widely used for the next hundred years.'

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          • #6
            Re: Distance Running in the 18th Century

            I think we have two things going on here. First, did an athlete in the 18th century run a 4 minute mile under strict rules that would be valid today i.e. accurate distance and accurate timing. Well, both Bob Phillips and John Bryant in their recently published books feel that an accurate mile was definitely possible. But the timing ...Now, the second consideration is whether athletes from that period were capable of running a 4 minute mile. Now it seems to me that certain athletes from the past -for example, Strode-Jackson ( Olympic 1912 1500m champ) - seemed capable of running something approaching 4.10 on hardly any training, and, with that in mind, it's not such a big leap to imagine a marvelously naturally gifted - and well trained - athlete from the 18th century being capable of a sub-4 mile. Again, what do we know about 18th century training methods. I bet someone like Herb Elliott could have run sub-4 minutes, on a "lightish" training regime, if that training was done a regular basis over a number of years.

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            • #7
              Re: Distance Running in the 18th Century

              To conjecture that runners were capable of running sub 4 in the 18th century is rather irrelevant. Why not the 12th century? To say timing is the problem is a big understatement. Affordable pocket watches in those days were very unreliable. Also there is the fact that if it was on a straight course: How did they start their watches? A telescope? A timer on horseback? The whole idea is fanciful.

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              • #8
                Re: Distance Running in the 18th Century

                We might as well ask if it's possible that some really smart person in the year 1183 came up with the idea that energy equals mass times the speed of light squared. Think it's unlikely? Then prove it didn't happen! I dare you! Or, I'm very sure that someone in Bulgaria in 1732 made a flying machine. Prove me wrong! Or, why not someone who wrote "On the Road" 124 years before Jack Kerouac, except that, well, the manuscript got lost. Prove me wrong! I just know that someone in Iceland in the late 16th century came up with the idea for Teflon, Tang, and Lava Lamps! Once again, just try to prove me wrong!

                Good God! Look up "idiocy" in the dictionary and you'll find: "belief that a sub-4 minute mile was run in the late 18th century."

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                • #9
                  Re: Distance Running in the 18th Century

                  I LOOKED up idiocy and pretentious . They both had a picture of a KUHA!! your biggest fan ,surfin Satch

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                  • #10
                    Re: Distance Running in the 18th Century

                    Some people are missing the point! We've moved on from possibility of a varifiable sub 4 mile in the 18th century to the possibility of an athlete back then being capable of achieving that goal. Again, it seems quite logical that this was possible. We know, for example, that when the rules and standards for amateur athletics were set up in the 19th century, that there was a vigorous - and successful - attempt to erase all records of previous "professional" running achievements. Again, I'll state that it is not such an extraordinary leap of imagination to believe at some point in the past athletes were capable of sub-4 min mile. If we pursue that thought we might be enlightened by what we find. Quite a lot of research into pre-modern athletics is going on in the UK, but what about else where?

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                    • #11
                      Re: Distance Running in the 18th Century

                      It comes as no surprise that as the 50th anniversary of Roger Bannister's historic four-minute mile approaches, an assortment of carneys, hucksters and fringe "historians" are coming out of sworn secrecy to announce they actually surpassed the milestone decades, and in some case, centuries ago. Among them: Jim Jones, L Ron Hubbard, Squeaky Fromme, Ann Heche, Ira Einhorn and Marshall Applewhite -- all coming out of seclusion from a secret encampment in Roswell, New Mexico.

                      As recently reported by the BBC, two enterprising old coots, Doug Bower and Dave Chorley, showed how they first measured perfect 400 meter track "circles" in a wheat field near Hampshire England, using only a stick, a piece of rope, and a flashlight to guide them, then completed four full "circles" on the course at night under the moonlight. The time: three minutes and fifty eights seconds - set back in 1947! They admitted, however, that if it weren't for the monetary inducements from the tabloids they'd have never accomplished the feat themselves.

                      Hoisting a pint for the cameras, and with a twinkle in his eyes, Chorley proclaimed, "Elizabethan amateur rules in the 1800s almost killed the sport of sub-four miling." Experts from fringe publications such as Runner's World concur, citing "prize structures and fan adulation in the 1700s would turn David Beckham green with envy."

                      Of the hundreds who've come forward so far this year, it still remains a mystery how or why these people have kept their secrets over the years? Some say this psychological phenomenon is a close cousin to the "Helsinki Syndrome." Other experts are suggesting that the hoopla of the 50th anniversary of Bannisters "supposed" record has caused suppressed memories to be unleashed from bondage.

                      "Sanitariums are overflowing with a sudden surge of four minute milers," says Jonathan Altered of Newswhack. "Between you and me," Randle McMurphy admitted, "she might have been fifteen, but when you get that little red beaver right up there in front of you, I don't think it's crazy at all, and I don't think you do either. No man alive could resist that, and that's why I ran the mile to begin with."

                      Raelian Starfleet Commander Brooks Johnson pleaded to be interviewed for this article--we politely declined, deferring to the wishes of his doctors. Recently released therapy transcripts have Johnson mumbling incoherently, "Flying 100s (spacecraft), time travel, kill whitey!"

                      Scientists have found no physiological barriers to prevent 18th century athletes from such performances. "I know of no reason why hard working farmers and cultists could not run under four minutes centuries ago," opined world renown researcher Jim Beam.

                      Many other scientists support Beam's conclusion. Peter Smails, himself an Olympic Champion, a judge and an avid golfer said recently, "Farmers and laborers in the 1700s worked very hard and were very fit. Even today, this work ethic still prevails, and the small farms in Western Kansas produce dozens of four minute milers every year." The pig races at many Midwestern State Fairs often showcase 12 year olds in dungarees dipping under the magic barrier.

                      When asked what happens to the few farmers who fail and don't break four minutes, Smails chortled, "Well, the world needs ditch diggers, too."

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                      • #12
                        Re: Distance Running in the 18th Century

                        Hilarious malmo although here is a post to darkwing from a few years ago:

                        "Date: Tue, 9 Oct 2001 23:45:20 -0400
                        From: "malmo" <[email protected]>
                        Subject: RE: t-and-f: Barry's pedigree

                        Almost Ed. In the old days farming skimmed away many of the better
                        athletes."

                        So maybe you aren't kidding:-).

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                        • #13
                          Re: Distance Running in the 18th Century

                          I find absolutely amusing how people use "ifs", "possibles" and such. Nobody would argue that there could be runners in the past who had the potential to run that fast. There is just NO evidence that they did. Measuring and layout of the course highly suspect, timing highly suspect, documentation essentially non-existent. Kuha's conclusion is inescapable - nonsense.
                          "A beautiful theory killed by an ugly fact."
                          by Thomas Henry Huxley

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