A Modern Disease

A journalist got in touch earlier this week asking about mountaineering speed records and how these performances compares to other prolonged endurance events. While pondering my answers it crossed my mind that we have a propensity to hype up feats of modern endurance performances as “the best ever” or the “peak” of human performance.

Rarely do we look back through the history books to acknowledge some of the exceptional performances of yesteryear - often achieved without modern clothing, logistics and training methods.

For example the often maligned Captain Scott and his men man hauled for 10 hours a day for nigh on 159 consecutive days across Antarctica covering around 2,500 km - thats roughly a million calories burned per man. If duration and energy cost are the yardstick, that’s got to rank highly in the annals of endurance performance.

Or how about the late 20’s “Bunion Derby” which was a 5,500 km footrace across America between Legion Ascot Speedway in Los Angeles and Madison Square Garden in New York. In the 1928 edition the average completion time was 84 days, which would have roughly cost a cool 340,000 calories.

Just a short musing, but I’d be interested to hear of other examples that spring to mind…


Ash Routen