Saturday, October 7, 2017

V 7 N. 66 Social Media Posts from Gary Corbitt's Celebrating African American Running History Site

The following are social media posts from July to September, 2017 done by Gary Corbitt on the history of African Americans in the Distance Running World. Printed with permission from Gary. As we find photos of these men and women, we will add them to this piece. Anyone with additional information and photographs should contact Gary Corbitt directly. Contact info is at the bottom of this article.
George Brose


Celebrating African American Running History
African American Middle & Long Distance Running Timeline (1880-1979)
July – September


James T. “Jimmy” Smith
A Great Black Long Distance Runner of His Era
(1913 - 1999)


Running History: July 3, 1937
Jimmy Smith representing Indiana University places 2nd to Glenn Cunningham in the U.S. National Championship 1500 meters.  His time was 3:54.0


In 1936, Jimmy Smith set an Indiana collegiate mile record of 4:11 that stood for 29 years.


He was a business major and graduated in 1938.  He became a public accountant and was owner of Smith’s Big 10 Grocery.


Lillian Greene Chamberlain
The First Ladies of Women’s Running in U.S.


Before there was Joan Benoit Samuelson, Grete Waitz, Nina Kuscsik, and Kathrine Switzer, there were ladies from 1958 to 1966 who paved the way for the sport of women’s long distance running.  There have been many milestones that have taken women’s running from when the longest distance allowed was 220 yards in the 1950s and today where many road races have more women finishers than men.


The names of these pioneer “First Ladies” include Grace Butcher, Chris McKenzie, Pat Daniels, Doris  Brown Heritage, Judy Shapiro Ikenberry,  Arlene Piper Stine,  Julia Chase Brand, Lynn Carmen, Merry Leeper, Sara Mae Berman, and Roberta Bobbi Gibb to name a few.  Also included is African American Lillian Greene Chamberlain and Rose Lovelace Thomas were the earliest women middle distance running champion.


Running History: July 5, 1958
Lillian Greene representing NY Police Athletic League becomes the first* U.S. national champion for  880 yards. Lillian set American records for 880 yards of 2:19.4 and 440 yards of 58.4 in 1958.  She was the first African American to represent the U.S. in the 400m and 800m in international competition.


*Lillian was disqualified and then re-instated.  Florence McArdle had been declared the winner.


Robert Earl Johnson
(1891 – 1965)
The First Great African American Distance Runner
Running History July 12, 1924:
In the cross-country Paris Olympics in 1924, Johnson finished third behind the great Finland duet of Paavo Nurmi and Willie Ritola. Along with receiving the bronze medal and he also led the U.S. cross-country team to a second place silver medal.  Johnson also placed 8th out of field of 43 in the Olympic 10,000 meters in 1924; setting a personal best time of 32:17.


Earl Johnson was a two time Olympian (1920 & 1924). History records him as the first internationally ranked African American long distance runner.  He competed from 1914 to 1926 from distances of one mile to twenty-three miles.  At the time Earl was the only Negro athlete to have made the Olympic team in a distance running event.

Earl Johnson’s U.S. National Championship titles are as follows:
1921 6 Mile Cross-Country
1921 – 1923 5 Mile Track
1921 – 10 Mile Road (victory over Ritola)
1924 10 Mile Road in 54:29 (victory over U.S. marathon Olympians Albert Michelson and James Hennigan)

He finished second to the Willie Ritola in the 1922 Berwick Marathon; a distance of nine and three-quarter miles. His time of 48:36 was just three seconds off the previous course record. The Berwick race has a tremendous history of bringing top college track athletes to race the top road runners. Most of the great runners over the eras starting in 1908 have raced in Berwick, PA on Thanksgiving Day.

Johnson was also a marathon winner.  In 1921 and 1923, he was first in the Detroit Marathon, a 22 mile event whose inadequate distance prevented Johnson’s name from appearing in official marathon histories. His time in 1923 was 2:09 which was 8 minutes faster than in 1921. An illness in 1924 prevented him from running the Boston Marathon that year.

Earl Johnson was born in Woodstock, Virginia and graduated from Morgan College in Baltimore.   He competed for the Edgar Thompson Steel Works AA team near Pittsburgh. He became a sportswriter for the Pittsburgh Courier and managed an African American sandlot baseball team at Edgar Thomson Works.



Rose Lovelace Thomas
The First Ladies of Women’s Running in U.S.


Running History: July 15 -16, 1960
Rose Lovelace representing Cleveland Recreation finished 2nd in the Women 800 Meters trial race for the Rome Olympics.  Pat Daniels set an American record of 2:15.6 in winning with Rose a close second in 2:15.7.    This was an historic race for the following reasons:
*This was the first time the Women’s 800 meters would be contested in the Olympics since 1928.
*Historians consider this the starting point in the evolution of women in long distance running.


Malvin Greston “Mal” Whitfield - 3 Time Olympic Gold Medalist
Reggie Pearman - Relay Anchorman Extraordinaire!


Malvin Greston “Mal” Whitfield
(1924 - 2015)
Marvelous Mal – Three Time Olympic Gold Medalist


Running History: July 22, 1952
Mal Whitfield wins the Olympic 800 meter gold medal over Arthur Wint in 1:49.2.


Mal was considered the greatest middle distance runner of his era.  His record includes two Olympic 800 meter crowns, six world records and eight National AAU titles.   From 1946 to 1955, he won 66 of 69 races at 800 meters.


In 1954, Mr. Whitfield became the first African American to win the James E. Sullivan Award presented each year to the country’s top amateur athlete.


Reggie Pearman
(1924 - 2012)
Relay Anchorman Extraordinaire!


Running History: July 22, 1952
Reggie Pearman places 7th in the 800 meter Olympic finals with a time of 1:52.1.  The race was won by Mal Whitfield.


Reggie won seven national and major collegiate titles for New York University in events of 440, 600, 880 and 1,000 yards.  His fastest times were 47.6 for 440 yards and 1:51.5 for the 880.  His greatest impact came as the relay anchorman for New York University and the New York Pioneer Club.


Fred Ritcherson
High School Phenom


Running History: July 26, 1969
Fred Ritcherson won the U.S. National One Hour Run Championship. His distance was 12 miles, 23 yards and was the third best performance ever by an American on the track. Buddy Edelen and Mike Kimball were the only other Americans to have ever run better at this distance.


Running for Selesian High School in Los Angles, Fred was one the greatest high school distance runners ever.  In 1968 he was Junior National AAU Marathon champion with a 2:27:01. In 1969, he ran 8:55.2 for 2 miles which is one of history’s all-time best high school performances.
He went on the run for USC.

Reader Comment: A great series on track history.  One note about Fred Richardson, he was also a phenomenal High School 2 miler.  In 1969, I took Talawanda’s Gary Cameron  (Oxford, OH)  to the Golden West meet in the High Jump.

I witnessed Steve Prefontaine win the mile in that meet as well as one of the greatest 2 mile races I ever saw.  It was between Fred Richardson and another HS stud who I cant remember off the top of my head.  However, it was a dead heat with one lap to go and both athletes split 60+ to a photo finish.  I believe that Fred was declared the winner, but I’m not certain. The time was 8:55. The meet was held at Hughes Stadium in Sacramento.   The track was a dirt/clay oval.  I recollect that Richardson went on to run at UCLA.  Correction:  USC

Joe Rogers


Theodore “Ted” Corbitt
(1919 - 2007)
“A Founding Father of Long Distance Running”


Running History: July 27, 1952
Ted Corbitt placed 44th in the Olympic Marathon with a time of 2:51:09.  He became the first African American to represent the U.S. in this event.  The race was won by Emil Zatopek who also won the 5,000 & 10,000 meter Olympic races.


This was Ted Corbitt’s 7th career marathon.  He would go on to do the following in the marathon:
Finished a total of 223 marathons and ultramarathons
Never dropped out of a marathon
National Marathon champion in 1954
Won the first Philadelphia Marathon in 1954, when the race was called the Shanahan Marathon.
Won the Canadian Marathon Championship in 100 degree temperature – 1955 – 3:00:05
Recorded a 2:26:44 personal record in 1958
Ranked among the top 3 American marathoners throughout the 1950s
He placed either 1st or 2nd for 11 consecutive years (1952 – 1962) in the New York Metropolitan AAU Marathon Championship.
In 1966, he became the second person in running history to finish 100 marathons.  Mike O’Hara achieved this milestone in 1962.
From May 1969 until February 1981, Ted Corbitt completed more marathons than anyone in the history of the sport.
He was victorious in 12 marathons from 1954 to 1964.
He was the first African American to represent the United States at the Olympic Games in the marathon, and the first to win a marathon national championship.

Dr. Philip Aaron “Phil” Edwards
“Man of Bronze” Canadian Five Times Olympic Bronze  Medalist
(1907 – 1971)


Running History: August 4, 1932
Phil Edwards representing Canada places third in the 1932 Olympic 1500 meters in Los Angeles.  His time of 3:52.8 placed him ahead of American Glen Cunningham.


Edwards earned the name “Man of Bronze.”  Here is his five Olympic bronze medal performances:
1928: Amsterdam – 4 X 400 Meter Relay
1932: Los Angeles – 800 Meters, 1500 Meters, and 4 X 400 Meter Relay
1936: Berlin – 800 Meters


Phil Edwards is a graduate of New York University and McGill University.  He became a highly regarded physician and expert of tropical diseases.


John Youie “Long John”  Woodruff
First Great Black American Middle Distance Runner
(1915 - 2007)


Running History: August 4, 1936
John Woodruff wins the 1936 Olympic 800 Meter Gold Medal in 1:52.9 over Mario Lanzi and Phil Edwards.


Woodrfuff from 1937 until 1941 enlistment into the army was never beaten at the 800 meter distance outdoors.  He won three NCAA 800 Meter titles representing University of Pittsburgh from 1937 – 1939 and was U.S national champion in 1937. His American for 800 meters of 1:48.6 set in 1940 lasted for 12 years.


After college he became an Army career officer, serving in World War 11 and Korea and retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel.


Ron Davis
An Outstanding Runner of His Era


Running History: August 23, 1964
Ron Davis representing the Long Island Striders takes 2nd place in the U.S. National 25K Championship held at the New York World’s Fair.  He placed second to John J. Kelley in 1:32:24 on an extremely hot day.


Ron was a member of the San Jose State Cross-Country team that won the NCAA Championship in 1962 where he finished in 6th place.  His specialty was the 3,000 meter steeplechase where he place in the top 6 at NCAA Championships for two years.


He would go on to be a track & field coach for over 40 years both domestically and internationally.


1964 National 25K Championship
This was a seminal race in which most of the east coast runners of this era participated.


Long Distance Log Headline:
John Kelley Captures Senior National 25 Kilo Championship In Blistering Heat as Norbert Sander Falters In Late Stages; Ron Davis Second
Here are the top 75 finishers:
1.       John J. Kelley
2.       Ron Davis
3.       Moses Mayfield
4.       Tom McCarthy
5.       Jim Lombardi
6.       Jim McDonough
7.       Ted Corbitt
8.       Norbert Sander
9.       Jim Green
10.   Gordon McKenzie
11.   Hugh McEleney
12.   Robert Fitts
13.   Fred Betz
14.   Abe Fornes
15.   Browning Ross
16.   Richie Dugan
17.   Scotto Gonzales
18.   John Kelly
19.   Steve Hayden
20.   Jim O’ Connell
21.   Joe Jones
22.   Vince Chiapetta
23.   Herb Lorenz
24.   Bill Schwab
25.   Bill Gibson
26.   Bennett Flax
27.   Colemen Mooney
28.   Leroy Gerber
29.   Bill Greenplate
30.   Art Hall

31.   Vern Ordiway
32.   Abe Assa
33.   Al Williams
34.   Paul Sullivan
35.   Roy Jernigan
36.   Carl Owczarzak
37.   Joe Burns
38.   Clarence Richey
39.   Bernie Wright
40.   Jose Dones
41.   Ken Hagelman
42.   Mike Attena
43.   Ron Gaff
44.   Harry Berkowitz
45.   Ed Dodd
46.   Francis Carver
47.   Ray Kressler
48.   Dave Faherty
49.   Mike Johnson
50.   Sid Smith
51.   Lou Coppens
52.   Carl Gilmore
53.   Ed Stansions
54.   Nat Cirulnick
55.   Bruce MacNaul
56.   Tom Osler
57.   Steve Conroy
58.   Dr. George Sheehan
59.   Greg Weis
60.   Bob Chambers
61.   George Wisniewski
62.   Bob Harrington
63.   Jim Borden
64.   Bob Gatowski
65.   John Long
66.   Pete Levin
67.   Jeff Levine
68.   Steve Harris
69.   Joe Kirby
70.   Kurt Steiner
71.   D. Srothers
72.   Chip Sweeney
73.   George Cushouac
74.   Mike O’ Hara
75.   Hugh Conway


Theodore “Ted” Corbitt (1919 – 2007)
He Helped Invent the Sport of Long Distance Running


Running History: August 1964
Ted Corbitt published the monograph “Measuring Road Running Courses.”  Here’s how he positioned his leadership in course measurement:


“My initiating the accurate course measurement program in the USA is easily the most important thing that I did in the long distance running scene.”


From: Phil Stewart
President Road Race Management
“Besides being an African American Olympic marathoner in 1952, a time when marathon running was far from integrated, Ted Corbitt was the quiet, tireless founder of the measurement and course certification system which allows millions of runners today to know that the courses they run -- be it the Boston Marathon or their local Turkey Trot 5K -- have been accurately measured. This is his remarkable and enduring legacy.”
From: Ken Young
Association of Road Racing Statistician
“Perhaps my most significant interaction with Ted was around 1980 when I visited Ted in NYC with a plan to add four final signatories that would greatly reduce the load that Ted had been carrying by himself.  The demand for certified courses had increased markedly over the preceding few years and I could see the demand increasing still further.  I remember sitting with Ted on the steps outside the NYRRC offices.  Ted agreed and we named four additional final signatories.  Within a couple of years, this led to the formation of the Road Running Technical Committee and the involvement of Pete Riegel.


About this same time, Ted came up with the "short course prevention factor" to add 0.1% to the race distance to help insure that the course was at least the stated distance.  This was an important step in legitimizing road records.  Without Ted's work over the years, a lot of what we take for granted today in the sport of road racing would not exist.”


Herman Atkins
The Greatest Still Standing (38 Years) Black American Long Distance Record!


Running History: September 9, 1979
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 38 years. This is truly an amazing running history milestone.


Herm Atkins Accomplishments:
High School: Seattle, Washington – Garfield
College: Arkansas State University & University of Washington
One mile best of 4:04
1973 – 5,000 meters 13:43
1977 – First marathon 2:18
1979 – 9th place Boston Marathon – 2:14:27
1980 – Nike/OTC Marathon – 2:15:09
1993 – Led Snohomish Track Club to a National Masters Cross-Country 10K Championship.


Herm co-owned a running shoe store and was a coach.  He also has served as a police officer in Everett, Washington.


Lou Scott
One of America’s top distance runners in the 1960s


Running History: September 13, 1968
Lou Scott became the second African American ever to make the Olympic team at 5,000.  He finished 3rd in the US Olympic trial qualifying race beating Gerry Lindgren.


In June 1962, Lou won what was known as “Michigan’s Greatest High School Mile Race” over Dick Sharkey in 4:13.2.  He was Michigan Track & Field Athlete of the Year in 1962 and 1963.
He attended Arizona State University and his best times were 4:04.9 for the mile, 8:35.2 for 2 miles, 13:12 for 3 miles, and 13:46 for 5k.
Lou placed 2nd in the 1967 Pan American Games for 5,000 meters.
He competed for the Motor City Striders.




Oscar Moore  “Speed & Grace”
One of the Greatest Road Races in New York City History!


Running History: September 15, 1963
Oscar Moore defeated Pete McArdle in the New York Metropolitan 20K Championship on the New York Road Runners Harlem River 4.01 miles course at MaCombs Dam Park and Yankee Stadium.


It was McArdles’s first defeat in the NY area in 4 years. Four course records were set by Moore.  He ran the last lap in 20:17 to beat the previous one lap record of Jim O’Connell.  He ran the last 2 laps in 40:40 to beat McArdles’s two lap record.


Here are full results:
Senior Metropolitan 20K Championship
September 15, 1963
60 Starters, 46 Finishers
1
Oscar
Moore
1:03:27
2
Pete
McArdle
1:03:38
3
Jim
O'Connell
1:06:51
4
John
Kopil
1:08:15
5
John
Flamer
1:08:15
6
Abe
Fornes
1:09:19
7
John
Kelly
1:09:38
8
Bill
Schwab
1:10:02
9
Pat
Bastick
1:10:43
10
Vince
Chiapetta
1:11:03
11
Walter
Cooper
1:11:21
12
Lenny
Zane
1:12:20
13
Charles
Gilberti
1:13:06
14
Ted
Corbitt
1:13:24
15
Bill
Welsh
1:13:45
16
Joe
Bessel
1:14:03
17
Carl
Gilmore
1:14:23
18
Bernie
Laufgas
1:14:24
19
Ken
Haggelman
1:15:17
20
Jim
Borden
1:15:23
21
Jose
Iglesias
1:16:13
22
Hugh
Conway
1:16:20
23
Bennet
Flax
1:16:32
24
Abe
Assa
1:16:55
25
Jim
Nolan
1:16:58
26
Al
Williams
1:17:00
27
Bill
Casey
1:17:10
28
Joe
Maggi
1:18:10
29
George
Kochman
1:18:21
30
Joe
Burns
1:18:46
31
Dick
Becker
1:19:17
32
Brendan
Egan
1:19:46
33
Bill
Castle
1:20:49
34
Roger
Ingram
1:21:32
35
Don
Lindaur
1:21:48
36
Mike
Hannon
1:22:25
37
Ron
Brewington
1:23:02
38
Mike
Quane
1:24:03
39
Nat
Cirulnick
1:24:43
40
G. William
Funk
1:25:23
41
Kurt
Steiner
1:25:40
42
John
Robinson
1:25:59
43
Dick
Lucian
1:29:58
44
Gus
Kotteakos
1:31:01
45
Joe
Keller
1:32:24
46
Milt
Pataky
1:36:28




Team



1
NYAC
33

2
NYPC
47

3
SABC
64

4
Millrose
75

5
United AA
106





DNF
NYAC
United


Sniggins
Nowak






Bruce TC
SABC


Mooney
Givner


Flores
Long


Casey
Soeder


Brody
McCarroll


Gately
Conway


Forsythe


Source: Long Distance Log November 1963



Alan Price  (1947-2015)
An American Centurion Legend


Running History: September 23, 1978  
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 amazingly 23 times from 1978 to 1993.  


Alan was considered America’s greatest ultra-distance race walker.


Rufus Tankins
Protégé of R. Earl Johnson
“Tankns Winner Of East Pittsburgh Marathon Event”
Rufus Tankins, dusky marathon star of Edgar Thomson A.A. last night added another triumph to his string by winning the 11 mile jaunt staged in connection with Old Home week of East Pittsburgh.  Tankins time was 1 hour, 9 minutes and 42 seconds.
Source: The Pittsburgh Press, September 27, 1928


Theodore “Ted” Corbitt (1919 – 2007)
“The Father of Ultramarathon Running in the U.S.”





Running History: September 28, 1969

Ted Corbitt places 2nd in the London-to-Brighton 52.5 mile road race.  It was his 5th appearance at this race, and at age 50. He recorded his fastest time and an American record of 5:38:11.  Dave Bagshaw won in 5:28:53.


*On three occasions (1962, 1964, 1969) he set American Road Records at this distance.
*Ted Corbitt at London to Brighton:


Ted Corbitt a year later sets an American age group (50-54) road record for 50 miles of 5:34:01.  This record still stands and its 47th anniversary is in October.  It should be noted in the 1969 London to Brighton race Corbitt’s estimated 50 mile time was 5:22:06.  There were no timers at the 50 mile mark so this couldn’t be the official record.
*Bernard Gomersall was the dominant ultramarathoner of this era with four London-to-Brighton wins and one Comrades Marathon win.

Reader's comment: George,
Maybe Jerome Walters should be on the list. He was a terrific miler in early to mid 1950’s and ran at SJS and S Calif Striders. He was in the race when Jim Bailey upset John Landy in the LA Coliseum in 1956. He won the OT in 1956 as well.
Pete


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