"In March of 1929, seventy-seven runners, some nearly penniless, set out from New York City on a footrace to Los Angeles. . . . On June 16, seventy-eight days after leaving New York, nineteen finished. . . . Kastner tells an absorbing story of the ups and downs . . . the runners, the Follies, and the support crew. . . . An eye opening perspective on the history of distance running and of the courage and determination of this band of runners making their way across the United States."—Arete: The Journal of Sport Literature
"It reads like a tale of shipwreck survivors adrift at sea. Yet these men could end their suffering at any time. They chose not to because they saw a better future, a chance to deepen their human experience, or both at the finish line. Kastner’s commitment to accurate historical documentation combined with gripping personal accounts of the race make for a compelling and motivating story."—Kevin Patrick, Washington, DC, reporter and ultramarathoner
On March 31, 1929, seventy-seven men began an epic 3,554-mile footrace across America that pushed their bodies to the breaking point. Nicknamed the “Bunion Derby” by the press, this was the second and last of two trans-America footraces held in the late 1920s. The men averaged forty-six gut-busting miles a day during seventy-eight days of nonstop racing that took them from New York City to Los Angeles. Among this group, two brilliant runners, Johnny Salo of Passaic, New Jersey, and Pete Gavuzzi of England, emerged to battle for the $25,000 first prize along the mostly unpaved roads of 1929 America, with each man pushing the other to go faster as the lead switched back and forth between them. To pay the prize money, race director Charley Pyle cobbled together a traveling vaudeville company, complete with dancing debutantes, an all-girl band wearing pilot outfits, and blackface comedians, all housed under the massive show tent that Pyle hoped would pack in audiences. Kastner’s engrossing account, often told from the perspective of the participants, evokes the remarkable physical challenge the runners experienced and clearly bolsters the argument that the last Bunion Derby was the greatest long-distance footrace of all time.
Charles B. Kastner is a long-distance runner and the author of Bunion Derby: The 1928 Footrace across America.
Series: Sports and Entertainment
6 x 9, 328 pages, 25 black and white illustrations, 11 maps