Five. Straight. Miles. With. No. Breaks.
Nobody asked for more of me ranting about Murdoch's lack of health and safety awareness (part one here), but we're doing it anyway because I thought about this way too much and posting this gives me the illusion of that being productive. (There's a TL;DR at the end for anyone who doesn't want to read an essay today.)
Let's talk about season 1 episode 6, "Let Loose the Dogs" and how Murdoch put George in a situation where he could have very easily injured or even killed himself and Murdoch did not consider the danger here at all.
In this episode, Murdoch needs to figure out if it's possible to run from a pub to the scene of the murder in nine minutes, and, in order to do this, he gets George to make the run five times in a row and averages the time. We know it's an eighteen minute walk to the crime scene from the pub, meaning it's roughly a mile, and George runs this five times. What I'm saying is, Murdoch essentially made George run five miles straight all in one go.
In fairness, this might not be crazy intense for an in-shape person, but I have the athletic ability of a doorknob, so this seems absolutely terrible to me in the most ideal of circumstances, which, I don't believe George was running in. Regardless, if we assume his average time is around nine minutes, then he was running for somewhere around 45-50 minutes straight, likely pushing himself to run faster in order to get a faster time or to impress Murdoch. If his endurance isn't above par, that's quite a lot of prolonged physical activity, even if he was drinking water and taking breaks, which he probably wasn't.
This is a bit of speculation on my part, but since we don't see a water jug anywhere with Murdoch, I'm willing to bet that George wasn't drinking water at all during his runs. Without water, your body can't make sweat to cool you down and release some of the heat produced when you exercise. I'm sure we all know this, but it's vital to stay hydrated, especially when you're going to be exerting yourself. More speculation, but Murdoch definitely values efficiency, so I'm assuming he made George run from the pub to the bridge and back and counted that round trip as two separate runs, thereby cutting out the time needed to walk back and start again. We only see the tail end of George's final run, ending at the bridge, so we don't know if Murdoch gave him any breaks, but knowing Murdoch, he probably kept break time to a minimum, if he thought about getting George to take breaks at all.
Resting when you're exercising or otherwise exerting yourself is important to avoid injury and to allow your body to cool down, especially in hot weather. Season 1 of Murdoch Mysteries takes place during 1895, and judging by the weather in the episode, it's during early to mid summer. I'm going to say early July. The Government of Canada has historical weather data available going back to the 1840s, and in July of 1895, the average temperature in Toronto was around 19° C, with a high average of 24° C and an extreme high of 32° C (source). Temperatures also averaged in the higher range in the first week of the month (the 4th through to the 8th had highs of around 30° C with almost no rain, and that extreme monthly high of 32° C happened during this week). Caution is recommended in 25° C weather to avoid heat exhaustion and heatstroke. 30° C and above is considered dangerous. George was sprinting five straight miles with no water and no breaks: definitely not exercising caution. In heat like that, especially with no breaks or water, it wouldn't be very hard to contract heat exhaustion or exertional heat stroke, both of which can be very dangerous, and the latter can even be fatal. Exertional heat stroke happens when your body produces more heat than it can lose because of overexertion or high temperatures, and the high core body temperatures it causes can very quickly start damaging organs, including the brain and the heart. It's a medical emergency. Since George is constantly moving and producing heat and he has no water for his body to make sweat with, he's practically begging for heat stroke.
This whole thing seems incredibly dangerous to me and I'm honestly surprised the poor guy didn't collapse.
I really want to know what Murdoch would have done if he was sitting there on the bridge waiting for George to finish his run and George just didn't come because he passed out somewhere over the course of the run. Murdoch didn't have anything with him other than a pocket watch, a notepad and a pencil. Best case scenario, he could have submerged George in the creek that the bridge went over in order to cool him off, but if he had collapsed earlier in the route, he wouldn't have any realistic cooling methods available other than, like, fanning with his hands or that notebook he had, which would have been much less effective than water. A person can survive with a core temperature of around 40° C for about thirty minutes before serious organ damage starts setting in. I'm not convinced Murdoch could have cooled George down fast enough to avoid that. If George had gotten heat stroke, I'm willing to bet that he'd probably have died.
Even if George didn't get heat stroke, he still could have gotten really painful muscle cramps or gotten hurt in other ways. I was in a lifeguard training once and I wasn't super well hydrated and I got a leg cramp bad enough that I couldn't walk, let alone swim. I was having problems with my leg for days afterward. George could have gotten a similar cramp, and, if one had struck while he was running, the resulting fall could have injured him further, especially since he was running through the woods. Who knows what he might have hit his head on had he fallen?
I realize that, if George had said to Murdoch, "sir, I need a break," Murdoch would definitely have let him take one, but George isn't very good at advocating for himself. He tends to do what he's told and not question it or ask for anything different. George just takes things in his stride, even when he gets the short end of the stick, and I don't think he would have asked for a break if he needed one. Regardless, George shouldn't have had to have asked because Murdoch should have planned for breaks. It shouldn't be a surprise to Murdoch that people need breaks when they're exerting themselves.
The most annoying thing is that Murdoch compensated George's running times for exhaustion, meaning that he knew George would get tired and he knew he had to tweak the calculations in order to get an even average. You know what would have made Murdoch's averaging even better, and would have eliminated the need to compensate at all? Having a larger goshdarn sample size. If Murdoch had gotten multiple constables to make the run and averaged all of theirs, he'd have gotten a more even and realistic average and he wouldn't have had to take exhaustion into account. There's a reason most scientific studies are based on a sample of the population and not case studies of single individuals: because it's better and it represents the population as a whole better. I bet Murdoch could have rounded up five constables and made them run a mile with no trouble at all. Some of them would probably have enjoyed it! But no, for some reason, he has to torture George instead.
It's like Murdoch is unaware there are literally dozens of other constables at Station House Four at his disposal.
TL;DR: Murdoch made George run five straight miles with no breaks in hot, summer weather when he could have gotten better results with more constables; George could have gotten seriously ill, hurt or killed; and I am questioning my sanity.