Pedestrienne Amy Howard standing next to one of the Championship Belts she won during her pedestrienne career. Courtesy of National Police Gazette Enterprises, LLC circa 1881.
Amy Howard had set a new, unbelievable mark in her sport. For days, she’d been the focus of San Francisco. All the papers had extensively covered her venture. The San Francisco Chronicle, SF Examiner, the Alta and other publications had followed her progress through her nearly week-long journey. Yet could anyone have known that on May 11, 1880, when pedestrienne superstar Amy Howard set the six-day record of walking 409 miles, that they were acknowledging a record that would stand for more than 130 years?
After all, the pedestriennes were on a high. Although kicked out of NY, they had experienced a remarkable renaissance on the west coast, with Howard’s mark the high point of what had largely been a successful streak for the pedestriennes. In addition to Howard, the previous summer Exilda LaChapelle had earned $6,000; teens Sadie and Alice Donley had each generated headlines, and been embraced by the public, and May Bell Sherman defeated a strong field and picked up $1,234 when she covered 337 miles.
Others enjoyed success and wealth as well, but no one could top Howard, a one-time actress who set records no one could touch.
But just like in NY, the scandals and public boredom with the sport caught up to them. Quickly the sport collapsed.
So the women’s walking record of 409 miles. Just by the record’s duration, Amy Howard became the pedestriennes’ Babe Ruth. She apparently retired undefeated. A six day walk of 400 miles has only been accomplished by a handful of pedestriennes, Howard, Sarah Tobias(who placed 2nd in the record-setting
CA resident Yolanda Holder is shooting for a new six-day American Record.
race), and in the May 29, 1880 edition of the NY Clipper, the top sports reporting journal of the day, pedestrienne Cora Cushing totaled 401 miles in six days. According to what we have, those are the only pedestriennes who cracked the 400 mile barrier.
Howard Long-Standing Record in Peril
She didn’t know it, but when California’s Yolanda Holder broke the 400 mile barrier with 403, that put her just seven miles short of breaking Howard’s all-time record.
Now, she is just hours from going for the record.
From December 28, 2016 thru January 3, 2017, at the Across the Years 6-day race at Camelback Ranch—Glendale, in Phoenix, AZ Holder, who can already claim several endurance walking records, will go after Howard’s.
In the true spirit of late 19th century pedestrianism Holder will, for six days, be responsible for her own eating, rest and sleep schedules. She will need to average 68.33 miles per day, or approximately 2.85 miles per hour, each hour for 144 hours.
Breaking it down like that, it’s easy to see how Howard’s record has stood for 137 years.