A BOOK which documents the career of a past-time borough sporting hero has been released by a Northumberland-based author.
Paul Marshall first became a published writer in 2008 and has since written three books, all with a focus on the Victorian era sport of pedestrianism and foot-racing.
His latest release, titled ‘Richard Manks and the Pedestrians’, focuses on a man whose sporting career ignited after building a reputation in Solihull as one of the strongest brick-makers in town.
His name, as the title suggests, was Richard Manks.
Born in Solihull in 1818, Richard was first noted by national newspapers as a future star in pedestrianism in 1843 as he took on some of the big names in races ranging from one to 20 miles for huge prizes worth up to £15,000 in today’s money.
Though many in modern times would be unaware of the popularity of pedestrianism, Richard would regularly race in front of 20,000 spectators across the country.
Author Paul told The Observer: “Richard Manks and the Pedestrians covers the history of the sport of Pedestrianism before 1860 and some of its greatest characters and performed feats.
“I think what people don’t understand is how popular these sporting personalities were in their time.
“They travelled the country entertaining hundreds of thousands of people on the tracks and roads of Britain and Ireland.
“People from all over Europe would travel to watch Richard in action and it is known tens of thousands of people followed his progress.”
The national hero not only raced in the Midlands, but also across the country – including at the world famous Oval Cricket Ground in London.
One of Richard’s most staggering achievements though came in June 1851 when he successfully walked 1,000 miles in 1,000 consecutive hours – an effort only ever matched before by Captain Barclay.
The Sheffield-born writer added: “What’s remarkable about that particular story is Richard started walking during the first minute of every hour – Captain Barclay would walk a mile at the beginning and end of every hour meaning he had more rest.
“He eclipsed that effort by walking 1,750 miles in 1,000 hours a year later, it was like the man had no limits.
“The people of Solihull should be very proud of what Richard achieved.
“He was the very best and most complete foot racing athlete in the annals of world sporting history – a name which has been forgotten by the passage of time.”
Paul’s book is free to view in the form of a PDF document, which can be downloaded by visiting www.kingofthepeds.com.
Paul has encouraged readers to donate money which would have been used to purchase the book to a charity of the readers wish.