A map studies the physics of The Proclaimers’ song, ‘I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)’ (left), the official video for said ear worm (right); Photo: Kenneth Field (left), YouTube (right)


Scottish singer-songwriters The Proclaimers are best known for their catchy jangle pop hit “I’m Gonne Be (500 Miles).”

A one-hit-wonder that found regular rotation on MTV and the radio, and of course spread to the masses in Benny & Joon, for those who grew up in the ’90s the hook is forever etched into the brain as such:

But I would walk 500 miles
And I would walk 500 more
Just to be the man who walks a thousand miles
To fall down at your door

It’s a simple and romantic gesture, but is it feasible? Could one man really endure a 1,000 mile journey into the unforgiving Scottish terrain?

Well, if you’ve ever wondered if such an undertaking is possible you’re in luck. A group of fourth-year students from the University of Leicester has published two papers and confirmed that yes it can most certainly happen.

The first mystery to unravel was is it feasible to actually travel 1,000 miles. Cartographer Kenneth Field discovered that yes, but only if they moved in giant circles; a data set compiled by assuming that The Proclaimers started their journey in their hometown of Leith.

The next step was for the students to confirm whether or not the body could endure such a trip, and the paper I Would Walk 500 Miles confirms that tidbit as well. The research says that the average Scottish male would lose 1.3% of their body mass after the first 500 miles, and 2.8% by the 1,000th mile.

The obvious follow up question for the students was, could they make the trip while carrying supplies like food and water. The research, published in a second paper entitled I Would Walk 500 More stated that it is not possible. Evidently the food and water needed for such a journey would add too much weight.

There are plenty of variables to consider including whether or not there were rest breaks or if the journey took place in one shot. Nowhere in the song do The Proclaimers mention that bit of information. And while it is possible to make such a journey, medical experts advise against it.

Either way, rest easy data and pop culture nerds, the mystery surrounding the Proclaimers’ claim (if there ever was one) is solved.