What are endurance based sporting events? The history of endurance sports.

Endurance is simply the ability to last. In physical terms that may mean to continue for a long time and in psychological terms in means to keep one’s concentration for long periods. Success in sport is a combination of physical and mental factors so endurance can be seen in virtually every sport. There are certain sports that are based wholly on endurance and others where endurance plays a major part in the sport’s success. Since history has been recorded there has been evidence of man taking part in sporting contests in order to quench their thirst for competition. As far back as 3000 BC in Iraq evidence has been found through castings on figurines of wrestling occurring between opponents. Wrestling appears in many further historical sporting events and this sport is an example of endurance being a vital ingredient of success.

The statute of Pheidippides

The statute of Pheidippides

Muscular endurance is essential for wrestlers because as the contest develops the competitor who maintains their strength for the longer period is likely to be the victor. The sports were pretty basic in earlier times but of course there were always foot races especially in Greece and Rome. There would be short races and there would be longer races. These two different distances accentuated the differences to be found in stamina. In the shorter races anaerobic stamina was required where as in the longer races aerobic fitness was needed.

Leonidas of Rhodes had 12 Olympic victories in 164, 160, 156, and the 152 BC. He would have needed great anaerobic stamina in order to keep repeating these fast explosive events. His endurance would have been matched by Pheidippides who in 490 BC ran the 26 miles from Marathon to Athens to announce the Greek victory over Persia at the Battle of Marathon. Pheidippides was a day runner giving messages by running to the destinations and this prepared him well for this journey. This gave him an abundance of aerobic energy which enabled him to complete the task and lay the foundations for the most famous of races, the marathon.

The statute of Pheidippides overshadowing modern day runners

Dr WG Grace

Dr WG Grace

Sports developed slowly through the middle ages with most contests tending to be rather violent contests between villages and the creation of the sports that we know today did not occur until the 19th century. The industrialization in Great Britain kicked started the sporting culture of the country’s society. Many sports were created and were then exported overseas with Europe and the Commonwealth Nations being the first areas to follow suit.

One of the oldest sports cricket doesn’t necessarily come to mind as being associated with endurance. In fact, one of its biggest stars in the 19th century Dr WG Grace doesn’t paint a picture of sporting athleticism. He played first class cricket for 44 seasons and in that time, he scored 124 centuries. He amassed over 54,000 runs in a career in which he bowled over 20,000 overs taking 2800 first class wickets. To have amassed such statistics would have required incredible physical endurance as he would have been in action on the field of play for so long. He would also have needed incredible mental endurance. Being a batsman takes incredible powers of concentration as one mistake could signal the end of one’s time at the crease. Despite not looking like a figure who possessed high levels of endurance his career statistics would argue otherwise.

Dr WG Grace perhaps not the most athletic of physiques

There are many forms of endurance in modern day sport. Professionalism has raised the bar in the level of athletic condition of today’s sports men and women. Their condition has only been improved with advancements in sports science.