BBC 1950s film shows tough Sheffield 100-mile walking race won in 17 hours

A vintage BBC news film shows a gruelling 100-mile race walk from Sheffield to Harrogate and back.

Friday, 21st May 2021, 4:45 am

The film, which has been released by the BBC archives, shows the event taking place in July 1956.

The race was won by a Surrey newsagent, Vic Stone who was 45 at the time, and it took him 17 hours and 28 minutes.

The video is mute and was first broadcast as part of the news.

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Racers start the walk, with eventual winner Vic Stone on the left
Racers start the walk, with eventual winner Vic Stone on the left

During the video, crowds are seen watching the first part of the walk, which sets off at a brisk pace after a man starts with with a whisk of a Union flag.

One racer is seen getting a drink from a St John Ambulance man.

By the time the walkers make it to the A61 in Barnsley, they have become very strung out along the carriageway.

A walker takes a drink form the St John Ambulance

Vic Stone is seen smiling but looking pretty tired, with a bandage around his thigh, being followed by a member of his support time on a bike carrying drinks for him.

Another racer, who was setting quite a pace early on, is seen reaching a drinks stop in the dark.

When he receives his winner's trophy, Vic Stone is all smiles again, the pain apparently forgotten for the moment.

At one time, long-distance walking challenges were known as pedestrianism and they were very popular in the 18th and 19th centuries. At that time they drew large crowds and a lot of money was made by betting on the outcome.

Winner Vic Stone receiving his trophy after his 17-hour 100-mile round trip to Sheffield

George Littlewood, known as the Sheffield Flyer, was a pedestrian who clocked up amazing challenges.

He still holds the record for six-day walking achieved in Sheffield between March 6 and 11, 1882, on a 13-lap to the mile track in Norfolk Drill Hall, completing 531 miles.

He was also invited to compete at Madison Square Gardens in New York, where he set a 600-mile record in front of a massive crowd.

Sheffield Running Club are currently raising £1,000 to restore his gravestone in Darnall Cemetery, working with the cemetery friends group, and their total has currently reached £625. You can donate at https://gofund.me/202c9195