MARATHON AND SHORTER DISTANCES Deerfoot.
Probably the first great runner of modem times was Deerfoot, the North American Indian from Cattaraugus.
Deerfoot first became an international celebrity in September 1861, when at the age of 36 he visited a secure and insular Britain (Lovesey, 1968) to test his running skills against the leading British professionals of the day. Deerfoots exceptional talent had first come to the attention of a British promoter and former runner, George Martin. Earlier that year, Martin had taken three leading British pedestrians to North America to compete in a series of races against the leading American runners. It was in those races that Deerfoots potential had become apparent.
Deerfoots tour of Britain lasted until May 1883, during which time he visited all the major cities in the United Kingdom.
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In one 4-month period alone, he ran.
400 miles in competition (Lovesey, 1968); in the first 14 weeks of his tour he ran 16 races of distances from 1 to 11 miles against the best British runners and lost only twice, both times under unusual conditions.
Only near the end of his tour was Deerfoots invincibility challenged, in part because he had overraced and had become rather too fond of the British way of life and apparently of British beer. *
Among his greatest performances was, in 1861, a 10-mile race run in 53: 35; I week later he became only the fourth man in history to cover 11 miles in less than 1 hour. In 1862 he established the world record for distance run in 1 hour, and in the first 4 months of 1863, he improved on that distance 3 times. His last race in Britain was one of his greatest. Passing 10 miles in 51: 26, he completed.
II miles 970 yards in 1 hour and 12 miles in 1:02:02. 05. It was not until 1953, 90 years later, that another British amateur, Jim Peters, exceeded that distance by running 16 yards farther in 1 hour. As we shall see, Peters may have been the greatest marathoner of all time.
When asked how he trained, Deerfoot replied, I have never trained (Lovesey, 1968, p. 39). Lovesey (1968) wrote that Deerfoots invasion of England had three major effects on distance running. First, Deerfoot exposed the cautious, strength-preserving tactics of the British runners as unprogressive and unnerved his opponents with his frequent switches of pace during the race. Second, he brought social respectability and wide public appeal to running, and third, he inspired an exceptional group of British runners who established running records that would last for 16 to 60 years.