As the year draws to a close, various publications begin their “year in review” analysis, naming the most important and influential people of the year. With my work, I “meet” important and influential people all year too. It’s just that most of them are dead and many of them are forgotten, but all of them are still fascinating!
Take, for example, my recent acquaintance with Edward Payson Weston (1839 to 1929). Weston (not to be confused with Edward Weston the photographer who shot some “racy” nude images that probably would have stopped Edward Payson Weston in his tracks) was a “notable pedestrian” (a phrase I think might be on my short list for my own epitaph), who made (pun alert!) incredible strides in promoting walking for exercise. Weston specialized in long distance walking, setting records for trekking hundreds of miles between cities. At 21, he walked from Boston to Washington (in February…) in 10 days, 10 hours, and his last great walk was at 73 when, in just 51 days, he walked from New York to Minneapolis. Over the years, he was assaulted by bettors, involved in a coca leaf “doping” scandal, and walked backward around St. Louis. In an incident that can only be due to a dark sense of humor on the part of the universe, Weston was struck as a pedestrian by a New York City cab at the age of 88 and never walked again before his death at the age of 90. You can read more about him in the 2012 biography, A Man in a Hurry: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Edward Payson Weston.