The Bunion Derby
March 4, 1928 - At 3:30 PM on this day, 199 runners left Los Angeles for the first Transcontinental Foot Race. The first man to make it to New York City would win $25,000.
The newspapers called it the Bunion Derby. The course followed Route 66 from Los Angeles to Chicago, then zig-zagged its way to New York City. Runners averaged 40 miles a day, but one particularly brutal day required a 75-mile run.
Women were not allowed to enter, but there were no restrictions on the race or nationality of runners. At the starting line, there were at least 5 African Americans and as many as 15 Latinos.
At the end of each day's trek, the runners collapsed into a segregated tent city, complete with cots and sometimes clean blankets.
The event was the brainchild of promoter C.C. Pyle. He travelled along with the race inside a luxurious motor coach complete with hot and cold running water, a shower, beds and a well-stocked galley. His house on wheels even had an observation deck.
Pyle also arranged for a carnival to move along with the race from city to city. The attractions included a 5-legged pig, a mummified outlaw and some games of chance.
55 men made it to the end, finishing 84 days later. The winner was a 20-year-old Cherokee Indian named Andy Payne. Returning to his home in Oklahoma, Andy paid off the mortgage on his family's farm and built his parents a new home.
Legend has it he never ran again.