It will take a man, walking in a steady and uninterrupted pace of 3 miles per hour (mph), to walk one complete circuit around the entire equatorial circumference of the Earth in 8,300.33 hours. This is approximately 345.8 days, 49.4 weeks, 11.5 months or .95 years of steady walking in a straight line. Apart from the biological improbability of walking nonstop for more than 8,000 hours, the separation between the Earth's landmasses makes such a trek impossible. However, several individuals have been credited with achieving such a feat.
A Shorter Route
It should be noted that the Earth is not a perfect sphere. Due to its rotation, the Earth bulges around the equator. This makes the circumference around the equator at 24,901 41 miles longer than the polar circumference (or meridional circumference), which measures 24,860 miles.
If someone were to walk the meridional circumference nonstop at 3 miles per hour, it will take them about 8,286.6 hours or around 14 hours faster to complete one circuit. To determine the time it takes to travel from one point to another, divide the distance (24,901 miles) by speed (3 miles per hour).
The fastest walker on record is British Olympic race walker Tom Bosworth. In 2017, Bosworth recorded the fastest mile by walking the distance in slightly more than 5 minutes or around 12 mph. If Bosworth were to "walk" nonstop around the world via the equator, he'd be able to complete 1 circuit in 2,075 hours. This translates to about 86 days, slightly more than 12 weeks, or three months.
People Who Walked Around the World
Despite the logistical impossibility of completing a pedestrian circumnavigation around the world, several individuals were given the credit of achieving this feat. The first person who was recognized to have done this is David Kunst, who in June 1970 set out with his brother John from Waseca, Minnesota.
The pair walked to New York City then flew to Portugal, where they resumed their trek across Europe. Kunst's achievement was marked by tragedy when bandits attacked him and his brother during the Afghanistan leg of their trek. The bandits shot and killed John while severely injuring Dave. Dave resumed the walk solo and was able to complete it on October 5, 1974.
Kunst's achievement, however, fell short of the requirements of the World Runners Association (WRA), an international governing body that sets the standards for events that include circumnavigating the world on foot. One of the rules of the WRA includes walking at least 16,300 miles. Kunst's fell some 2,000 miles short of this rule.
Other individuals were also deemed by the WRA to have officially completed a circumnavigation of the world on foot. They are:
- Fastest: Jesper Olsen, 662 days (January 2004 to October 2005)
- Longest distance covered: Tony Mangan, 31,000 miles (October 2010 to October 2014)
- Youngest person: Olsen, 33 years 147 days
- Oldest person: Serge Girard, 62 years 315 days
- Most circumnavigations: Olsen, circled the world twice (including once from pole to pole)
Other individuals who are on the WRA records to circumnavigate the world on foot include Rosie Swale Pope, Tom Deniss, and Kevin Carr.
Average Walking Speeds
One study published in 2011 shows that the average walking pace for humans between the ages of 20 to 29 is 3 to 3.04 miles per hour. The same study also revealed that walking speeds tend to decrease as humans age. Researchers from the study noted that individuals aged from 50 to 59 have slower walking speeds of 2.93 mph. Individuals aged 60 to 89, the study shows, walk at a pace of 2.10 to 3 mph.
A Lifetime of Walking
It is estimated that an individual will take about 7,200 steps a day on average. Theoretically, if such an individual lives to the ripe old age of 80, he'll have taken more than 200 million steps in his lifetime. Taking into consideration the average stride of a man, a long lifetime of walking can amount to approximately 110,000 miles. This will be enough distance to circumnavigate the world five times over.