A Protest Against the Mile Walk.
The objections to the mile walk are numerous and strong. In the first place it is very ungraceful, and worse, it often partakes equally of the ridiculous and the disgusting. In the walker's effort to take long strides without rising from the ground, he is forced to very exaggerated and unnatural motions of all parts of his body. But these asthetic draw-backs are of least impotance.
A greater objection, is the impossibility of procuring a judge competent in all cases to judge fairly. He has too many men and styles to watch. One judge, on first seeing a man walk may disqualify him for a gait that another judge has come to consider as fair. R. S. Hale is an example of this, he being taken off the track in the intercollegiate games, yet allowed to walk in the Yale-Harvard games.
The effect of this upon the athlete is very discouraging. He dares not over exert himself, and is in a continuous state of nervousness, which materially lessens the physical exertion, of which he would otherwise be capable, and it is well-known that courage and self-control are of the first importance to the success of the contestant.
In the walk the purpose of physical culture is practically defeated. Although most trainers maintain that the exercise is not the on whole injurious, it surely fails of adequate physical good. The grating motions of the hip produces an effect on the alimentary canal which surely cannot aid the digestion, when the ordinary peristaltic motion is surely insufficient. More than any other athletic exertion, the walk produces vomiting, so it is not conducive to more bodily soundness. What is more, walking does not develop the body for its best efficiency. Other events exercise the muscles employed in the normal and rational activities, such as leaping ditches, hurdling fences and running at full speed. So the walk is proved ugly, "because it is unnatural and perversive of the proper functions of the body.
But in abolishing the mile walk another event ought to be substituted. The three mile run has been proposed by the Inter-collegate Athletic Association. The event added to the regular list would enable cross country runners, now ipso facts unfitted for track events, to compete in them, and by giving track athletes greater endurance, would enable them to lower present records.