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Sustaining Executive Performance: How the New Self-Management Drives Innovation, Leadership, and a More Resilient World by Steven MacGregor

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7. On the Changing Patterns of Mobility Worldwide

I’d rather cry in the back of a BMW than smile on a bicycle.

Ma Nuo

Accusations of performance-enhancing drugs, riots at an overcrowded Madison Square Garden to watch sports celebrities do battle, professional gambling on a massive scale, and dirty tricks campaigns. Welcome to the 1870s and the world of competitive walking. Pedestrianism was the world’s first popular spectator sport where athletes would often walk distances of up to 500 miles and more around loops of a dirt track in front of sold-out arenas. And such sporting fervor can be traced to one man.

In 1796, at the age of 16, Robert Barclay Allardice won his first competition against a “London gentleman” walking 6 miles in an hour for ...

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