William Pridmore finished first in the inaugural “heel and toe” walking match held in Victoria in 1887
William Pridmore finished first in the inaugural "heel and toe" walking match held in Victoria. The year was 1878 and he defeated an American by the name of James Gordon in a ten mile contest that had them briskly walking around and around the old Pavilion Rink. The Daily Colonist newspaper of the day reported "The men, who wore tights with red silk trunks, started off together, Pridmore taking the lead almost at once and before the first mile and a half had been accomplished he had gone twice oftener around the course than Gordon." The Victoria crowd went wild and suddenly walking matches were all the rage. By the following year the walking matches were a staple of the local entertainment and sporting world and a six-day match was featured in which Pridmore again distinguished himself by walking ten miles in an hour and twenty-one minutes and twenty-two seconds. By the spring of 1881 the Daily Colonist newspaper reported "The Great Walking Match - Pavilion Rink was densely crowded by persons anxious to witness the heel and toe walking match between Callahan, the champion of America and Pridmore the champion of British Colombia." Pridmore won handily. Pridmore went on to win all his matches and his cash prizes allowed him to buy a farm on Burnside Road. But the fad, that had been the rage all over North America, lost its appeal by the end of the century and the great walking matches were no more. William Pridmore was 93 when he died in 1935.