CROSS­ING A CON­TI­NENT

History Revealed - - GREAT ADVENTURES THE BUNION DERBY -

Much of the iconic Route 66 was still un­sealed in 1928, when sport agent CC Pyle was com­mis­sioned to or­gan­ise an epic run­ning race along its 2,400-mile length. For com­mer­cial rea­sons, Pyle ex­tended the course to New York, to make it a 3,422.3-mile coast-to-coast chal­lenge.

1

3.30 PM, SUN­DAY 4 MARCH 1928 As­cot Park Speed­way, Los Angeles, Cal­i­for­nia The Trans-Amer­i­can Footrace be­gins, with 199 run­ners tak­ing part and around half a mil­lion peo­ple turn­ing out to see them off. The first leg was the short­est of the lot, an easy 17 miles to La Puente.

2

6 MARCH Vic­torville, Cal­i­for­nia Within days the race en­ters the Mo­jave Desert, leav­ing Bloom­ing­ton, going through Ca­jon Pass and into the sear­ing heat. The rudi­men­tary road is rough and rocky, and au­to­mo­biles stir up dust, which run­ners bat­tle through. One man is hit by a car, an­other by a mo­tor­bike.

3

12-19 MARCH Two Gun Camp, near Flagstaff, Ari­zona Cross­ing the Colorado in Ari­zona, run­ners swap dry desert for mountains and cold late-win­ter con­di­tions. Race leader Arthur New­ton in­jures his Achilles cross­ing Route 66’s high­est point on Forty­nine Hill and is forced to re­tire from the race. Sec­ond-placed Payne comes down with se­vere ton­sil­li­tis here too.

4

28 MARCH Al­bu­querque, New Mex­ico After an­other ten days of high-al­ti­tude run­ning, Peter Gavuzzi be­gins to gain on the front-run­ners Andy Payne and Arne Soumi­nen, who have ex­changed the race lead. In Al­bu­querque, the big­gest town the race has en­tered since LA, the mayor snubs Pyle’s car­ni­val and the race fi­nances de­scend into a per­ilous state.

5

EASTER, 6-8 APRIL Amar­illo, Texas Run­ners en­dure their worst day around Amar­illo, with aw­ful con­di­tions turn­ing the road into a quag­mire. Race leader Arne Soumi­nen rips ten­dons on Easter Sun­day (8 April) and is forced to pull out of the race, leav­ing Andy Payne and Peter Gavuzzi to duke it out for top spot.

6

17 APRIL Clare­more, Ok­la­homa Ok­la­homan Andy Payne crosses the bor­der into Tex­ola in the lead, and stays ahead though his home­town of Foyil and into Clare­more, the half­way point from LA to New York. Here, he re­ceives a 21-gun salute from the Mil­i­tary Academy, but is slowed down by his own en­thu­si­as­tic sup­port­ers across Ok­la­homa.

7

27 APRIL St Louis, Illi­nois Payne loses the over­all lead to Gavuzzi as they run through Mis­souri and en­ter Illi­nois. As the race crosses the Mis­sis­sippi, Pyle’s fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion wors­ens when the St Louis Cham­ber of Com­merce re­fuses to pay his $12,000 fee.

8

11 MAY Fre­mont, Ohio By the time the race leaves Chicago, Payne is trail­ing Gavuzzi by al­most seven hours, but the English­man is nurs­ing a painful tooth ab­scess that leaves him un­able to eat for two weeks, and he is forced to re­tire from the race 34 miles west of Fre­mont.

9

24 MAY Pas­saic, New Jer­sey As the race passes through Johnny Salo’s home­town, Payne is given a po­lice es­cort after fears of vi­o­lence from lo­cal sup­port­ers (al­though the two men had ac­tu­ally forged a solid friend­ship). Salo is given a job as a po­lice­man, a role he takes up after the race.

10

26 MAY New York City On the last day of the epic transcon­ti­nen­tal race, 84 days after leav­ing LA and hav­ing run 3,422 miles, 55 men cross the Hud­son River into Man­hat­tan and have to do 200 laps around a slip­pery track in Madi­son Square Gardens. Payne wins the race with a time of 573 hours, 4 min­utes, 34 sec­onds, some 15 hours ahead of sec­ond-placed Johnny Salo.

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