Stepping out

INCREDIBLE feats of endurance, skulduggery and romance. These are just some of the topics covered in Paul Marshall's fascinating book, King of the Peds.

Focusing on what the Shilbottle writer calls "one of the greatest sporting spectacles the world has witnessed", this incredibly detailed text examines the history of long-distance pedestrianism – or walking – races during, for the most part, the 1870s and 1880s.

The monster tome (all 708 pages of it) is a truly absorbing read, opening the door on a subject which, I'm sure many people, were unaware existed.

Somehow this part of sporting history has fallen into oblivion. But thankfully, with a breathtaking amount of research, Marshall has hauled it out of the darkness and thrust it back into the spotlight.

Great timing too, with the dust only just starting to settle on Team GB's success at the Beijing Olympics.

Everything written in King of the Peds is historical fact and by chronicling the races and their build-up, the personalities involved and the pre and post-race interviews, the book propels the reader straight into a ringside seat, back to when pedestrian stars were as popular as the likes of Tiger Woods and David Beckham.

This sporting history lesson starts in 1861, when a young American man named Edward Payson Weston sets out to walk from Boston, Massachusetts, to Washington DC after making a bet that he could cover the feat in just 10 days.

And so the tone is set!

You'll learn about a host of walkers, from James Albert, who won a 27-hour race at Dover, to Henry Brown, who walked 477miles in March 1878 to grab third prize money in the 1st International Astley Belt.

And then, once you've seen the facts and marvelled at the extraordinary tales of endurance, it's up to you to decide who you think, really is, King of the Peds.

King of the Peds – Paul Marshall (AuthorHouse UK Ltd, ISBN: 9781434334671)