We do it for fun nowadays

Mo Farah would have had some tough competition from ancient farmers living 7,300 years ago.
Scientists claim if they were to cross paths, our ancestors would have been capable of outrunning some of the world’s most talented athletes.

Yeah. Isn’t it lovely how far we’ve come, we sprint and run these days for fun not to avoid becoming lunch.

15 comments on “We do it for fun nowadays

  1. We never really did it to *avoid* becoming lunch, but it was the only way to *get* lunch for a long time.

  2. I Can’t make head or tail of the linked article. It seems to think ‘hunter/gather’ is the same as ‘farmer’?

    Doesn’t pass the smell test in any event. Fitter on average? Sure. But better than our best? I don’t think so. There are plenty of people around the world still living the same lifestyle, and I think someone would have noticed if they were all superb international level athletes.

  3. I remember seeing a Doc on Channel 4 years ago about medieval warfare. They put some superfit martial artist into a suit of armour and told him to have at it with a battlaxe. He was completely knackered after 5 minutes.

  4. They put some superfit martial artist into a suit of armour and told him to have at it with a battlaxe. He was completely knackered after 5 minutes.

    As would have been the medieval knight, I should imagine. I’m not sure such battles were as portrayed in the films, I think there was an awful of of standing around and pontificating in between short bursts of action.

  5. Putting anyone into kit they’re not used to will get them knackered fairly quickly. Wearing armour does mean you get tired a bit quicker than normal, but not all that much, in my experience.

    It’s awkward if you’re not used to it, or if it doesn’t fit properly – you end up spending half your effort moving the armour round instead of moving yourself. But if it fits and you’re used to it, it’s not much of a problem. There are plenty of Youtube videos around of people doing handstands in full plate harnesses, for example.

  6. ‘I remember seeing a Doc on Channel 4 years ago about medieval warfare. They put some superfit martial artist into a suit of armour and told him to have at it with a battlaxe. He was completely knackered after 5 minutes.’

    Yeah, but tell him to train with it for a few months and it would be a different story.

    Better to be light for design anyway.

  7. Quite hiilarious 7300 years ago Mo Farrah would have been a middle-aged man well past his peak. Probably contemplating a quiet life with the other oldsters. If he was one of the few, lasted that long.

    Depends which armour’s being worn. Jousting armour’s very heavy. Armour for fighting mounted, much lighter. For fighting on foot, entirely different.
    “Suits of armour” only really exist hung on dummies or Hollywood films. The “suit” was one of the varieties of leather or cloth garments with varying degrees of padding to match needs, The “armour” a kit of various pieces of mail & plate were strapped over it.
    A “battleaxe” implies a shield isn’t being used. Otherwise the shield’s an integral part of the equipage. So the armouring on what would have been the shield side might be heavier & more complete. With a shield it might be lighter. With the battleaxe being a weapon for fighting on foot, the leg armouring would be much lighter than that employed for fighting from the saddle, where the legs are vulnerable to assailants on foot.
    If you want to do strength comparisons, try the 160+ lb draw on a medieval longbow. Equivalent to lifting & suspending your own weight with one hand. Good archer could do this 6 times in a minute, as an incidental to aiming it.

  8. If you want to do strength comparisons, try the 160+ lb draw on a medieval longbow. Equivalent to lifting & suspending your own weight with one hand. Good archer could do this 6 times in a minute, as an incidental to aiming it.

    I think 6 arrows per minute was the minimum rate required to serve as an archer on Henry Vs foray into France. I think it was Juliet Barker’s superb Agincourt which also said that exhumed skeletons of professional archers showed they were deformed from the continuous, asymmetrical effort.

  9. Bloke in Spain – the harness in my cupboard is pretty much a suit, and to be honest I think of the metal as the “suit” and the arming jacket (and the mail, too) as the underlay.

    I’m not sure a battleaxe precludes a shield – I quite happily use both together. You’re right that the shield is an integral part of the equipment, but I think you have your causation the wrong way round: the shield got discarded in the 15th century once the armour was solid enough not to need one, and that doesn’t necessarily mean heavier (properly made plate can be lighter than mail, as well as more protective).

  10. Mo Farah is a poor example. Early man was better at the sprint, to escape in a crisis or to ambush prey. Later the long distance walk was preferred, tracking animals.
    When would early man need to run 10,000 metres?

  11. Actually, a lot. Humans have never been ambush predators and our sprint sucks.

    However we’ve long been mid to long distance runners, chasing prey that can run short distances quickly but don’t have the stamina to repeatedly do that at short intervals, until the animal is exhausted.

  12. @Pellinor
    I’m presuming you must be doing some sort of reenactment? Do you actually have reproduction mail?
    Having trained as a gold & silversmith, I’ve a pretty good idea how they worked with plate. Repousé on a grand scale. I did try to reproduce some mail & even a few square inches of double linked riveted was difficult & time consuming. A substantial amount must be frighteningly expensive..
    No doubt a great lord or wealthy knight might have afforded to commission a complete suit of Italian armour. But the vast majority of more humble men-at-arms would have worn whatever came to hand. Inherited,bought, taken from the fallen after a battle, forfeited in jousts..And what was worn at any particular time would have been to suit the purpose required. Full mounted battle armour wouldn’t be appropriate for a cavalry skirmishing role. The limited vision afforded by a jousting helm a deathtrap for fighting on foot.

  13. Bloke in Spain: yes, I have a fair bit of mail and some plate. Riveted mail isn’t too hard to make (I’m told) if you have the right processes and the right tools, it’s just time-consuming. There are great factories out in India doing it these days, and £500 will get you a very nice hauberk.

    Munition plate isn’t too bad either: I know a few armourers who can knock out a very nice plate harness in a week or so, and seem to be able to churn out loads of other bits and pieces while they do it (they must have more than 24 hours in a day, it takes me all afternoon to re-rivet a broken strap). If you look at some of the records, there were 15th century orders going in for thousands of muntion harnesses at a time, with mass-production going on in specialist factories. Ford wasn’t the first 🙂

  14. “Yes, you wouldn’t really outrun any predator except maybe a croc…” — best carry a stick, a good one. I often idly contemplate what size of stick I would have carried. Suitable for many things, but most importantly for whacking lions and wolves. I reckon about six inches less than one’s own height and quite thick, say 2.5 inches.

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