Sunday, 2 October 2016

Another RWF sporting hero - Captain Robert Barclay

200 years ago he walked 1000 miles in a 1000 consecutive hours for a 1000 guineas!!
An acknowledged strongman, the Scot had no hi-tech equipment, support bus or energy drinks to help him.
On 1 June, 1809, a crowd of thousands gathered to watch Captain Barclay embark on his much-heralded challenge.
The newspapers had been full of his 1,000-guinea wager that he could walk 1,000 miles in 1,000 consecutive hours and the Royal Welch Fusiliers officer had become something of a cause celebre in Newmarket.
Dressed in the gentleman's fashion of a heavy woollen overcoat, flannel breeches, lambs wool stockings and heeled leather shoes - no cushioned trainers and Lycra here - he set out on his first mile.
Many doubted he could do it.
Walk the distance, yes. But to go without a night's sleep for six weeks was unheard of, so many betted against him.
The sums of money changing hands over the challenge were phenomenal and when he succeeded, Captain Barclay not only earned the title of Celebrated Pedestrian but became a very rich man as well. The 1,000 guineas bet in itself was worth about £35,000 in today's money, and the captain is estimated to have made £100,000 on side bets (about £40 million today).
But his feat of endurance was not without its difficulties.
Among the complaints he listed were "a little pain in his legs" on the twelfth day; pains in his neck and shoulders and nausea in the second week; toothache in week four; and "very ill" two days before the end.
When he was called to start the 607th mile, he could not be woken.
So his brother and friend dragged him to the starting line and pushed him off and when he still did not wake - and with just 20 minutes left to complete the mile - his groom William Cross smacked him across the shoulders with a stick to startle him into action.
By the end of the six weeks, he had lost 32lbs.

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