The Silverton 1000 mile challenge was inspired by Captain Barclay and his 1000 mile / 1000 hour challenge completed in 1809. Here is a short history of his run:
Captain Barclay’s most famous exploit took place between 1 June and 12 July 1809 at Newmarket, during which he walked 1 mile (1.6 km) in each of 1000 successive hours, to win an initial wager of 1000 guineas.
The enterprise quite caught the public imagination. The Times, which carried little in the way of general interest news, printed this report alongside an account of the campaigns of Marshal Soult in the Penninsular War (14 July):
The gentleman on Wednesday completed his arduous pedestrian undertaking, to walk a thousand miles in a thousand successive hours, at the rate of a mile in each and every hour. He had until four o’clock P.M. to finish his task; but he performed his last mile in the quarter of an hour after three, with perfect ease and great spirit, amidst an immense concourse of spectators. The influx of company had so much increased on Sunday, that it was recommended that the ground should be roped in. To this, Captain Barclay at first objected; but the crowd became so great on Monday, and he had experienced so much interruption, that he was at last prevailed upon to allow this precaution to be taken. For the last two days he appeared in higher spirits, and performed his walk with apparently more ease, and in shorter time than he had done for some days before. With the change of the weather, he had thrown off his loose great coat, which he wore during the rainy period, and on Wednesday performed in a flannel jacket. He also put on shoes thicker than any which he had used in the earlier part of his performance. He said that during the first night after his walk he would have himself awaked twice or thrice, to avoid the danger of a too sudden transition from almost constant exertion to a state of long repose.
One hundred to one, and indeed any odds whatever, were offered on Wednesday; but so strong was the confidence in his success, that no bets could be obtained. The multitude of people who resorted to the scene of action, in the course of the concluding days, was unprecedented. Not a bed could be procured on Tuesday night at Newmarket, Cambridge, or any of the towns and villages in the vicinity, and every horse and every species of vehicle was engaged. Among the Nobility and Gentry who witnessed the conclusion of this extraordinary feat, were:—
The Dukes of Argyle and St. Alban’s, Earls Grosvenor, Besborough and Jersey; Lords Foley and Somerville; Sir John Lode, Sir F. Standish, &c. &c.
Capt Barclay had a large sum depending upon his undertaking. The aggregate of the bets is supposed to amount to £100,000.—He commenced his feat on the first of June.
During the 42 days of this exercise, his average time per mile increased from 14m 54s to 21m 4s, while his weight dropped from 13st 4lb (84.5 kg) to 11st (70 kg). If the report of the total wagers was accurate, they were equivalent to some £5 million ($US 8 million) in modern terms.