Monday, February 15, 2016

V 6 N. 12 African American Distance Runners

This great post came from Gary Corbitt's blog today.    We've added some photos and some bio information.

Celebrating Black History Month
African American Running History Project (1880 – 1979)

September 9, 1979 – Herman Atkins

Herm placed 5th at Nike/Oregon Track Club Marathon in a time of 2:11:52.  The race was won by Tony Sandoval and Jeff Wells who finished in a tie 2:10:20. The race was held in Eugene.  Herm Atkins has held the distinction of being the fastest native born black American marathoner for 36 years. This is truly an amazing running history milestone.

September 23, 1978 - Alan Price – An American Centurion Legend

Alan qualified as an American Centurion for the first time at age 31. His time of 18:57:41 was a new American record for walking 100 miles.  Centurion is a club for which race walkers are eligible who have completed a distance of 100 miles within 24 hours.  Alan Price would go on to do this an amazing 23 times from 1978 to 1993.  Alan was considered America’s greatest ultra-distance race walker.  He passed away at age 68 in January 2015.

The First Ladies of African American Long Distance Running
Marilyn Bevans & Ella Willis

Marilyn Bevans

April 18, 1977 - Marilyn Bevans finished second to Miki Gorman at the Boston Marathon in a time of 2:51:12.  She would record her personal best marathon time of 2:49:56 in 1979 at Boston.  She was the first sub 3 hour, world class Africa American female runner achieving this at the 1975 NY Marathon.
Ella Willis

October 26, 1975 - Ella Willis wins the Detroit Free Press (Motor City) Marathon in 3:13:51 becoming the first African American female to win a marathon. She would go on to win this race four times with a personal best of 2:38:22 set in 1989. Her winning time in 1988 was the all-time fastest marathon ever by an African American female.  She held this distinction for an amazing 18 years.
April 22, 1975 -  Arthur “Art” Hall  (1947 – 2011)

Art Hall wins the Penn Relays Marathon in 2:27:32.  He would go on to record his personal marathon best of2:22:07 at the 1978 Boston Marathon.Many consider him to be the greatest long distance runner ever from Staten Island, New York.  A street in Staten Island is now named Art Hall Way to honor this legendary athlete and person who had a tremendous impact on people.

April 27, 1974 -  Denis Elton Cochran Fikes

Denis Fikes representing the University of Penn runs a 3:55.0 mile in the 1974 Penn Relays’ to place second to Tony Waldrop in the Ben Franklin Mile.  This performance was the fastest mile ever by an African American.  He would hold the distinction of being the fastest African American miler ever for an amazing 18 years.
Denis Fikes  Bio

May 25, 1973 - Tommy Fulton (1952 – 2013) - A Herculean Distance Odyssey
Tommy Fulton completed an incredible 51 hours; 8 Races, 15.5 miles of track competition at the NAIA Championships representing Texas Southern University.  This performance still remains unparalleled in distance running history.

Here was his eight race schedule:
May 23:
I mile heats– First Place
880 heats – First Place
3 mile heats – First Place
May 24:
880 semi-finals – First Place
3 mile final – First Place
May 25:
1 mile final – First Place 3:57.8 was an all-time best for an African American at the time.
880 final – Second Place to Mike Boit
6 mile final – Second Place
April 21, 1973 -  Reggie McAfee
Reggie McAfee representing the University of North Carolina runs the first sub-four minute mile by a native born African American.  His time of 3:59.3 placed him second to his teammate Tony Waldrop in the Big Three Meet in Raleigh, NC.  He would go on to run three sub 4 minute miles this season with a personal best of 3:57.8.  Reggie is considered by many to be the greatest high school distance runner to compete in Cincinnati.
Reggie McAfee  click on this link for video.

Reggie taking down Lasse Viren in a 3000m. in 1973

February 22, 1974 -  Robin Campbell
Robin Campbell-Bennett

Robin Campbell wins the National Indoor One Mile Championship over Doreen Ennis at Madison Square Garden.  Her time was 4:50.7. Robin was a two time Olympian at 800 in 1980 and 1984.
Her range in racing distances and longevity competing at a national championship level was special.
She was national champion at 440 yards in 1975, 800 meter in 1983, and one mile in 1974.
Robin competed in every Olympic Trials between 1972 and 1984.

April 15, 1974 & April 17, 1972 – Theodore  “Ted” Corbitt – Boston Marathon History
4/15/74 Ted Corbitt’s runs his last Boston Marathon at age 55.  His time of 2:49:16 was only 34 seconds slower than his first Boston in 1951. Corbitt ran Boston 22 years.

4/17/72 Ted Corbitt tied Clarence DeMar for a record of 19 consecutive years of running the Boston Marathon under 3 hours.  Demar’s streak went from 1922 – 1940.

May 16, 1971 -  Byron Dyce

Bryon Dyce became the first African American with dual citizenship (Jamaica) to run a sub 4 minute mile at Franklin Field in Philadelphia at the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Games.  Byron placed 3rd in 3:59.6 in the Dream Mile where Marty Liquori defeated Jim Ryun.  This race was special in African American running history where the 3 top African American milers; Byron Dyce, Reggie McAfee, and Denis Fikes were in this race. The race video is on YouTube.

November 29, 1970 – Moses Mayfield

Moses Mayfield wins the Philadelphia Marathon in a time of2:24:29 to become the fastest African American marathoner of all-time. He would go on to win this race again in 1971 with the exact time 2:26:44 that Ted Corbitt achieved in the 1958 edition of this race.  This was the first year the race became known as the Philadelphia Marathon.  In previous years it was known as the Shanahan and  Ruthrauff Marathons respectively.

Theodore “Ted” Corbitt – “The Father of Ultramarathon Running in the U.S.”

Running History: November 4, 1973 & October 25, 1970
11/4/73 Ted Corbitt sets an American Record for 24 Hour Run on the track of 134.7 miles.  The race was held at Walton-on-Thames in England.  Corbitt finished in 3rdplace. 
10/25/70 Ted Corbitt sets an American age group road record for 50 miles of 5:34:01 placing 6th at the National championship held in Rocklin CA. Corbitt was 51 years old.  This age group record still stands today after 45 years.

For more running history information visit the following:
“like” Ted Corbitt – Pioneer
Follow me on twitter @corbittg

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