In 8,300.33 hours, a man walking at a constant and unbroken pace of 3 miles per hour (mph) will make one complete cycle around the whole equatorial circumference of the Earth. This equals to 345.8 days, 49.4 weeks, 11.5 months, or 0.95 years of brisk, straight-line walking. In addition to the bodily impossibility of walking nonstop for over 8,000 hours, the distance between Earth’s landmasses renders such a journey impracticable. However, multiple people have been credited with accomplishing this accomplishment.
A shorter distance
Noting that the Earth is not a perfect spherical is important. Due to its rotation, the equator of the Earth bulges. This makes the circle around the equator, which measures 24,901 miles, 41 miles longer than the circumference around the poles, which is 24,860 miles.
If someone were to walk the meridional circle nonstop at 3 miles per hour, it would take them approximately 8,286.6 hours to complete one circuit, or around 14 hours faster. To calculate the trip time between two points, divide the distance (24,901 miles) by the speed (3 miles per hour).
Tom Bosworth, a British Olympic race walker, holds the record for being the quickest walker ever. In 2017, Bosworth set the record for the quickest mile by walking the distance in slightly more than five minutes, or almost 12 miles per hour. If Bosworth were to “walk” nonstop around the earth via the equator, it would take him 2,075 hours to complete one circuit. This equates to around 86 days, a little over 12 weeks, or three months.
People who circumnavigated the globe on foot
Despite the practical impossibility of completing a circumnavigation of the globe on foot, some persons were credited with accomplishing this accomplishment. David Kunst, who set out with his brother John in June 1970 from Waseca, Minnesota, is the first known individual to have accomplished this.
The two trekked to New York City and then travelled to Portugal to continue their journey across Europe. Tragic circumstances marred Kunst’s accomplishment when bandits attacked him and his brother during the Afghanistan part of their journey. The bandits fatally shot John and severely wounded Dave. On October 5, 1974, Dave resumed the walk alone and was able to complete it.
The World Runners Association (WRA), an international regulatory body that sets the qualifications for events such as circumnavigating the world on foot, deemed Kunst’s accomplishment insufficient. A requirement of the WRA is to walk at least 16,300 miles. The distance travelled by Kunst fell almost 2,000 miles shy of this rule.
The WRA recognised other individuals as having completed a circumnavigation of the globe on foot. The following are:
Fastest: Jesper Olsen, 662 days (January 2004 to October 2005)
longest distance covered: 31,000 miles by Tony Mangan (October 2010 to October 2014)
Olsen is the youngest, at 33 years and 147 days
The oldest individual is Serge Girard, who is 62 years and 315 days old
Most circumnavigations: Olsen, who circumnavigated the globe twice (including once from pole to pole)
Rosie Swale Pope, Tom Deniss, and Kevin Carr are also listed in the WRA records as having circumnavigated the globe on foot.
Average Walking Speeds
A 2011 study indicates that the average walking speed for adults aged 20 to 29 is between 3 and 3.04 miles per hour. The same study also indicated that as humans age, their walking speeds tend to drop. The study found that individuals aged 50 to 59 have decreased walking rates of 2.93 miles per hour. The study indicates that individuals aged 60 to 89 walk at a speed of 2.10 to 3 mph.
An Eternity of Walking
On average, an individual will take approximately 7,200 steps each day. If this person lives to the ripe old age of 80, he will have theoretically taken more than 200 million steps in his lifetime. Taking into account the average man’s stride, a lifetime of walking can amount to around 110,000 miles. This is sufficient distance to round the globe five times.