Competition between footmen gave way during the second half of the 18th century to men racing against time over long distances. 'Pedestrians' (as the walkers were called) could win a very handsome fee for walking dozens -- or even hundreds -- of miles within a proscribed time. Side bets were, of course, very welcome.One of the more popular goals involved covering at least 100 miles in less than 24 hours. Those meeting this goal were (and still are) called Centurions.(quoted by Phil Howell in A Brief History of Racewalking in the United States, North American Racewalking Foundation)
Her in the walk must arise from the exercise and the day, from the view of the last smiles of the year upon the tawny leaves and withered hedges, and from repeating to herself some few of the thousand poetical descriptions extant of autumn--that season of peculiar and inexhaustible influence on the mind of taste and tenderness--that season which has drawn from every poet worthy of being read some attempt at description, or some lines of feeling.