Monday, April 10, 2023

Todd Aydelotte's New York Houdini history run

Todd Aydelotte is embarking on one of the most novel Houdini tributes I've ever encountered. So novel, I don't think I can do it justice. So I'm going to let Todd explain it himself!

I'm an ultrarunner, Race Director and public relations executive living in New York City. Uniquely, as a 'historical ultrarunner', I run long distances to trace the lives of famous New Yorkers, and well known historical events in NYC. Here's a story from Runner's World that traces my many historical ultras, over many years (as far as I know, I'm the only person running like this).

I approach my subjects with extraordinary care, and only start running after consuming huge doses of historical information; stated another way, after my mind is loaded with history, I set off on foot to examine that history, and consider my own place in it. For my Houdini series, I've read five books, though your site is my primary source for information (I've discovered that the Houdini biographies often contradict one another, so it often takes a John Cox to sort it all out!). The books I've read include: The Witch of Lime Street, Gresham's Houdini, Gibson's Houdini's Escapes and Magic, Gibson/Young's Houdini's Fabulous Magic and Silverman's Houdini.

For most of my historical running series, I embark on a broad range of shorter runs first -- typically 5 miles to 15 miles -- over weeks and months, wherein I visit key sites I've been reading about, while documenting everything on my IG @toddaydelotte. At the conclusion of a series, I then design a 30-100+ mile 'Historical UltraRun' (any run in excess of 26.2 miles is considered an 'ultra' distance), where I string all the sites together, and seek to create a unique historical tapestry for me to run across over a 24-48 hr period -- and hopefully, plunge myself into a heightened state of consciousness.


As any ultrarunner will tell you, at long distances big things happen in the mind. As the body breaks, the mind expands and ultrarunners experience heightened states of consciousness, moments of clarity, and hallucinations. And into this sacred space is where I inject history -- and try to catalyze unique experiences. By running this way, I've discovered I can engage dynamically with the subject matter, fostering a deep connection to the person/events I'm to.

If you visit the link in my bio on IG, it will take you past the paywall at UltraRunning Magazine, where you will find a story on my last historical ultra -- The Howl UltraRun, a 93-miler I worked on with Allen Ginsberg Estate.


For the next few months I'll be tracing Harry's history across NYC... his teen years on the Upper east Side... his early performances on Coney Island and in the dime museums on 14th Street... his battle against the surge in Spiritualism... his many escapes and shows throughout NYC... his family and key addresses in NYC... What I love about Harry's history is that it intersects with so many broader historical trends and unique events in the City... ie, the death of Vaudeville... the 1st World War & so many people embracing Spiritualism in a desperate attempt to connect with the lost... NYC's transition to a fully electrified world, and the rise of automobiles...

And into all of this comes Harry's story, a story rooted in courage, ambition, creativity and confidence. I've been fascinated by Harry throughout my life, and this is a series that really excites me, especially given Harry's love of endurance and running.

For the final "Houdini UltraRun", I'm still putting it all together. However, if I stay injury free, it may ultimately look something like this. I will start running at Midnight on a Friday, and will run a 30+ mile route that covers Harry's entire life, all the sites I've covered in the series, spanning his teenage years on the Upper east Side to his shows on Coney Island and to his grave in Queens, and all points in between. My goal is to enter Central Park at 4 AM the next morning, at the conclusion of 30+miles of Houdini historical sights -- and this is where the tribute to Harry's endurance begins! The run is not over -- it's only just begun. I will then attempt to run non-stop 'Central Park Loops' -- Harry's favorite training route, a 6 mile loop around the Park -- from 4 AM (when the Park opens) till 2 AM the next day (when the Park closes). This will certainly be 100+ miles of running, and I'm doing that to honor Harry's super human endurance.

Todd has already completed one of his preliminary runs, which you can see on his Instagram below. There will be more to come, so be sure and follow him. I'll also be providing updates here on WILD ABOUT HARRY. 

Go Todd!


  1. That's one way of doing your cardio...I wonder where that photo of a young Houdini decked out in medals was taken. It looks like a stairway entrance. Wouldn't it be cool if a Houdini fan found that spot?

    1. Holy smokes I've never thought of that. I've just always assumed it was a studio pic because there appears to be a backdrop behind him. But I've never consider that stairway. Could be a prop they rolled in. Or maybe it's the stoop of the Pasttime Athletic Club? If someone found that spot I'd lose my mind. :)

    2. It looks like a cement wall behind him. You can see the crack on the upper left corner. We need to see the building of the Pasttime Athletic Club. If it hasn't been torn down by now.

    3. The same goes for the Allerton Athletic Club. We don't if HH was in the Allerton Athletic Club or the Pasttime Athletic Club when this medal photo was taken. The PAC is still around and in Connecticut. I sent them a message asking if they knew the original NYC address of the club. It started in 1882. Haven't tried the Allerton yet.