The rules were simple – essentially, contestants were required to walk in circles for six days in a row, until they had completed laps equivalent to at least 450 miles (724km). They could run, amble, stagger or crawl, but they must not leave the oval-shaped sawdust track until the race was over. Instead they ate, drank and napped (and presumably, performed other bodily functions) in little tents at the side, some of which were elaborately furnished.
By March 1881, interest in this strange sport had fallen off a cliff.
Pedestrianism did not disappear altogether, of course. Eventually the sport evolved into something more palatable to the public, and less likely to kill the contestants: racewalking.