A couple weeks back, as I mentioned in this blog, I started reading the story of the first foot race across the country.
Starting on March 4, 1928, 199 runners began a crazy adventure from California to New York. It took them 84 days, nonstop, to run 3,422 miles, in pursuit of a $25,000 grand prize. This was before good shoes, GU, Camelbacks, and the things we use all the time. In fact, even the roads were new. They ran on a little known stretch called Route 66.
I finished the book last week and I recommend it to any endurance athlete, marathon runner, or person looking for a true story of perseverance, determination, will power, friendship, plain ol’ guts and incredible happenings!
I don’t want to spoil the story, which is engagingly written by freelance writer Geoff Williams, but here are a few passages to give you a taste. Each day Geoff lets the reader know the route and the miles. On occasion he reminds you how many runners are left, in case you lost count.
March 7, Victorville to Barstow, 36 Miles
(for the record, my friends, 36 miles was a short day for these men).
“But Kolehmanien’s inner thigh muscles were racked with pain, and the arches in his feet were broken. It felt as if marbles were stuck inside his foot every time he took a step, and so 3 miles into the day’s race, Kolehmanien …surrendered.”
March 11, Danby to Needles, 57 Miles
“What Hardrock didn’t know was that his shoes with the cork and asbestos were responsible for his blisters and soreness. He hadn’t realized the shoes design flaw…And the blisters, which covered his feet, were quite a problem.”
April 8, McLean, Texas to Texola, Okahoma, 35 Miles
“Suominen had every reason to be optimistic. He had survived the blizzard and was still in excellent condition, with only Gavuzzi and Payne threatening his hold on the race — and they were several hours behind him — …Suominen was feeling few effects from running halfway across the country. If anything, his body was getting stronger every —
Then his heel cord snapped.”
May 11, Wauseon to Fremont, 64.7 Miles
“When Payne and Granville reached Salo, he was puffing a cigar. All of the first dozen of so athletes were given complementary cigars and cigarettes, against the backdrop of thousands of shouting and applauding fans.”
May 26, Madison Square Garden (the final day), 32.2 Miles
“…Maybe you think I’m not glad this thing is over?…I never was so tired of anything in my life.”