List of pedestrian circumnavigators

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A circumnavigation of the Earth is a journey from a point around the globe, returning to the point of departure. In a pedestrian circumnavigation, travelers must move around the globe and return to their starting point by their own power, either walking or running. The Guinness Book of World Records sets the requirements for a circumnavigation on foot as having traveled 18,000 miles, and crossed four continents.[1] The World Runner's Association (WRA) is often recognized as the authority on the authenticity of pedestrian circumnavigation in the "ultrarunning" community. The WRA sets the following guidelines for circumnavigation attempts:[2]

  1. The runner must begin and end their journey in the same place, and travel 26,232 kilometers on foot.
  2. All lines of longitude must be crossed. (They may be crossed on ship or plane if the area is unwalkable, such as an ocean.)
  3. The runner must pass through antipodal points, within a tolerance of ten degrees of latitude and longitude.
  4. The runner must set foot on at least four continents and cross them from coast to coast, and the continents must be longitudinally consecutive.

The runner is permitted to take breaks and time off, but they may not rest in any one location for more than six months, or for more than 25% of the total running time. Further, if the runner is trying to set a speed or endurance record for "running" around the world, they must be running at least 50% of the time, and walking for less than 50% of the journey.[2]

Attempts to walk around the world began as early as 1786. Starting in 1875, dozens of circumnavigation ultrawalkers emerged, most of them frauds who fooled the public to win wagers and made a living giving lectures about their supposed “walks”. Later, a few legitimate walkers succeeded.[3] The first legitimate ultrarunner to succeed is Konstantin Rengarten, and the most recent to succeed is Tom Turcich. The following list shows people who have, or claim to have, completed a circumnavigation on foot, sorted by date of departure.

Pedestrian circumnavigators[edit]

Name Date Duration Distance Notes
Konstantin Rengarten [pl] August 15, 1894 – September 27, 1898 4 years, 1 month, 13 days 26,876 km Rengarten was likely the true first person to walk around the world. Born in the Minsk province in the Baltics (today in Belarus), Rengarten started a walk from west to east with his starting point at Riga, the present-day capital of Latvia (then part of the Russian Empire). He continued across Asia, through North America and Europe, and finished at his starting point on September 27, 1898.[4]
George Matthew Schilling 1897 – 1904 ~ 7 years Unknown The Guinness Book of World Records attributes the "first circumnavigation by walking" to both Schilling and David Kunst; however, Schilling's reputed walk was never verified.[5] Schilling's walk has been met with heavy skepticism and is believed to have been impossible at the time. He never fully completed the circumnavigation. A few years later, he became a self-promoter by making false claims about outlandish stunts.[4]
Arthur Blessitt December 25, 1969 – June 13, 2008 38 years, 5 months, 20 days 65,319 km Blessitt is an American preacher of Evangelical Christianity.[6] Starting in 1969, Blessitt carried a cross through every nation of the world, with the goal of setting foot in every country and every island nation in the world. He completed this goal on June 13, 2008.[7] He holds the Guinness world record for the "longest ongoing pilgrimage", and has walked 321 countries, including island groups, territories, and countries which no longer exist,[8][9] of which 54 were in open war.[10][11]
Dave Kunst June 20, 1970 – October 5, 1974 4 years, 3 months, 16 days 23,250 km Dave Kunst became the first man independently verified to have walked around the world, covering four continents.[12] His brother, John Kunst, accompanied him for two years from his starting point in Waseca, Minnesota, until he was killed by bandits in Afghanistan. Kunst continued the walk in his brother's honor. Kunst reportedly traveled much of the distance on muleback. He completed his walk on October 5, 1974 after 14,500 miles. His walk does not meet the standards of the World Runners Association, but the organization did not exist at the time of his walk, having been established in 2014.[13] While the WRA requires a minimum of four continents, Kunst had a gap[clarification needed] between India and Thailand.[3]
Steven M. Newman April 1, 1983 – April 1, 1987 4 years 23,335 km Newman became the second man independently verified to walk around the world on April 1, 1987, exactly four years after his departure. His walk was very similar to Kunst's, covering four continents and 14,500 miles. Similar to Kunst, Newman's walk falls short of the minimum distance required by the WRA for membership. However, the WRA did not exist at the time of his walk.[13] Like Kunst, Newman also had a gap between India and Thailand, and another gap in the Middle East.[citation needed]
Ffyona Campbell August 17, 1985 – October 14, 1994 9 years, 1 month, 28 days 32,186 km Campbell became the third person and first woman claiming to have walked around the world.[14] She carried out her walk in stages. In 1985, she walked from New York City to Los Angeles, across the United States. She later admitted to taking transport during one stretch, because she was ill, but had to meet sponsors' demands. She later returned to walk that stretch.[15] In 1989, she walked from Sydney to Perth, in Australia.[16] In 1991, she walked across Africa, from Cape Town, South Africa to Tangiers, Morocco.[17] In 1995, she completed her walk.[18] Her walk was carried out in stages and does not meet WRA standards.[2]
Robert Garside October 20, 1997 – June 13, 2003 5 years, 7 months, 25 days 48,000 km Garside is a British runner credited by the Guinness Book of World Records as the first person to run around the world.[citation needed] Garside previously attempted two runs starting from Cape Town, South Africa, and London, England, but aborted both.[19] In 1997, he began a run in New Delhi, India, and completed his run at the same point on June 13, 2003.[20] His run was met with heavy skepticism, including from Kunst.[19]
Jean Beliveau August 18, 2000 – October 15, 2011 11 years, 1 month, 29 days 75,000 km Beliveau became the fifth man to independently verified to walk around the world. Walking for 11 years and covering 75,000 km, Beliveau's walk is the longest continuous world walk and has preliminary qualification stage for recognition under the WRA guidelines.[citation needed]
Rosie Swale-Pope October 2, 2003 – August 25, 2008 4 years, 10 months, 24 days 32,000 km First woman to run and walk the northern hemisphere. She did not follow World Runners Association guidelines, primarily by running three continents instead of the minimum four and not crossing and recrossing the equator. She elected to run totally in the northern hemisphere; an additional 4,000 km run across Australia would have met the WRA guidelines.[citation needed]
Jesper Kenn Olsen January 1, 2004 – October 23, 2005 1 year, 9 months, 23 days 26,232 km Jesper Kenn Olsen ran 26,232 kilometres in his first world run.[clarification needed] His run was scrutinized by the ultra running community.[citation needed]
Tony Mangan October 25, 2010 – October 27, 2014 4 years, 3 days 50,000 km Third runner to successfully run around the world. Having run 50,000 km, he holds the record for the longest world run according to the World Runners Association guidelines. Mangan is the third person to be inducted into the WRA membership.[citation needed]
Tom Denniss December 31, 2011 – September 13, 2013 1 year, 8 months, 14 days 26,232 km Second runner credited with a proper documented world run under the World Runners Association rules. He holds the record for the fastest circumnavigation on foot and is the second person to be inducted into the WRA membership.[citation needed]
Kevin John Carr July 28, 2013 – April 9, 2015 1 year, 8 months, 13 days 26,232 km Aiming to be the fourth runner credited with a proper documented world run, he followed the WRA rules in his attempt to break Tom Denniss's record for the fastest circumnavigation of the world on foot. Ratification of his claim by WRA is still pending.[citation needed]
Tom Turcich April 2, 2015 – May 21, 2022 7 years, 1 month, 20 days 45,061 km Turcich became the tenth person to circumnavigate the globe on foot, to his own count.[21] Turcich left his home in Haddon Township, New Jersey on April 2, 2015, walking across every continent except Australia, before returning to his starting point on May 21, 2022.[22] In August 2015, Turcich adopted an Australian Shepherd in Austin, Texas, whom he later named Savannah. To Turcich's estimation, Savannah is the first dog to circumnavigate the globe on foot.[23]
Marie Leautey December 6, 2019 – September 1, 2022 2 year, 3 months, 4 days (825 days) 28,249 km Seventh runner credited with a proper documented world run under the World Runners Association rules. She holds the record for the fastest circumnavigation on foot (woman) and is the seventh person to be inducted into the WRA membership

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Aylward, Juliet (March 15, 2003). "Running man bids for world record". BBC News. Retrieved April 25, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c "World Runners Association Constitution". World Runner's Association. 26 September 2014. Retrieved May 20, 2022.
  3. ^ a b Crockett, Davy (11 November 2019). "Around the World on Foot – Part 1 (1875–1895)". Ultrarunning History. Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  4. ^ a b Crockett, Davy (27 November 2019). "Around the World on Foot – Part 3 (1894–1899)". Ultrarunning History. Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  5. ^ "First circumnavigation by walking", Guinness World Records. Retrieved on 25 April 2020.
  6. ^ Blessitt, Arthur. "Jesus (And the 'New ')". Official Website of Arthur Blessitt. Retrieved April 25, 2022.
  7. ^ Blessitt, Arthur. "Forward / Dedication". Official Website of Arthur Blessitt. Retrieved April 25, 2022.
  8. ^ "Longest Ongoing Pilgrimage". Guinness World Records. Retrieved April 25, 2022.
  9. ^ Guinness Book of World Records 2014. United States: Guinness World Records. 2013. p. 271. ISBN 978-1908843357.
  10. ^ Blessitt, Arthur. "Arthur Blessitt in Guinness World Records". Archived from the original on November 16, 2013. Retrieved January 12, 2022.
  11. ^ Scott, Mathew (August 23, 2015). "Guinness World Records: 60 years of inspiring the extraordinary". South China Morning Post. Retrieved April 25, 2022.
  12. ^ "First circumnavigation by walking", Guinness World Records. Retrieved on 25 April 2020.
  13. ^ a b "World Runners Association". World Runners Association. Retrieved April 26, 2022.
  14. ^ Campbell, Ffyona (1997). The Whole Story: A Walk Around the World. Orion Publishing Group. ISBN 0-7528-0988-1.
  15. ^ "First Woman to Walk Around the World Says She Cheated". AP Newa. Retrieved 2021-06-30.
  16. ^ Campbell, Ffyona (1999). Feet of Clay: On Foot Through Australia. Orion Publishing Group. ISBN 0-434-10692-5.
  17. ^ Campbell, Ffyona (1995). On Foot Through Africa. Orion Publishing Group. ISBN 1-85797-946-X.
  18. ^ "Briton Is First Woman to Walk Around World". LA Times (Reuters). 15 October 1994.
  19. ^ a b "On the Run". The Guardian. February 15, 2001. Retrieved May 12, 2022.
  20. ^ Yen, Yi-Wyn (July 7, 2003). "Rinningman Robert Garside Comes Full Circle". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved May 12, 2022.
  21. ^ "Tom Turcich (@theworldwalk)". Instagram. Retrieved April 24, 2022.
  22. ^ "The World Walk – Welcome Home Celebration". Eventbrite. Retrieved April 24, 2022.
  23. ^ Turcich, Tom (November 13, 2016). "Savannah's Saga – Part One". The World Walk. Retrieved April 24, 2022.