Ted Corbitt Archives

“For distance running he was like Jackie Robinson, Lou Gehrig, and Bill Russell.”

Ted Corbitt Archives

ABOUT TED CORBITT Long Distance Road Running History Maker

The first African American to represent the U.S. at the Olympic Games in the marathon (1952-Helsinki), and to win the U.S. National Marathon title (1954-Yonkers). From 1969 – 1981, he was history’s most prolific marathoner, having finished more than anyone else in the history of the sport.

The first president of the New York Road Runners Club (NYRR 1958-1959), and the third national President of the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA 1960-1961). His work at establishing a system to accurately measure road race courses in the United States helped to legitimize the sport.

He’s considered the “Father of Ultramarathon Running in the U.S.” and is credited with coining the term ultramarathon which are races beyond the standard 26-mile marathon.

Pioneering Holistic Physical Therapist:

Master Student, Teacher, and Healer

One of the first African American Clinician of Physical Therapy. He worked for 44 years at the first rehabilitation center in the United States – The International Center for the Disabled (ICD). He taught at Columbia University for 27 years (1954 – 1981).

Ted Corbitt studied and collaborated with the following pioneering legends in health and rehabilitation.

Elizabeth Dicke - Connective Tissue Massage (CTM) – West Germany - 1956 & 1962
Margaret Knott & Dorothy Voss – Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) – Boston University – 1960 & Northwestern University - 1972
Josephine Rathbone – An acclaimed scholar of physical education and relaxation – Columbia University -1950s
Margaret Rood – Neurophysiology Rood Technique - University of North Carolina – 1965
Lulu Sweigard – Teacher of body balance and efficient movement – Columbia University – 1950s
Marge Kapsos – Originator of cross-fiber friction massage
George Goodheart – Applied Kinesiology – 1985-1986

Current & Upcoming Events:

Boston Marathon Expo
Sunday, April 14, 2024 – 3P

Celebrating Ted Corbitt’s 50th anniversary since his final Boston Marathon in 1974.
Gary Corbitt: Archivist – Theodore Corbitt Institute for Running History Research
Roger Robinson – Author and Master Historian


The North American Society for Sport History (NASSH)
Annual Conference Sunday, May 26, 2024 – 3P - Denver

Panel Title: Black Running: From Historic Marathon Contributions to the Theodore Corbitt Institute for Running History Research

Moderator: Mark Dyreson, PhD, Professor of Kinesiology, Affiliate Professor of History, Penn State University

Discussant: David Wiggins, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Sport Studies, George Mason University

Individual Papers
When is it Okay to Run Around Your Neighborhood in Shorts? Representations of Black
Running at the National Marathon Championship
Jacob Fredericks, PhD
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Making the Course: A History of African American Distance Running
Suzuko Morikawa, PhD
Chicago State University

Help Wanted: Running History Scholars Needed for the Sport of Track and Field and
Long-Distance Road Running
Gary Corbitt
Archivist: Theodore Corbitt Institute for Running History Research
Historian: National Black Marathoners Association (NBMA)

Women’s Running History Podcasts:

Starting Line – 1928

Listen to groundbreaking first time interviews with early women & Black women running pioneers.


The Physical Therapist – Healer

I met Ted Corbitt in 1984 when I was sent to the ICD (International Center for the Disabled) for rehabilitation following orthopedic surgery. I knew nothing of his Olympic history or track records, only that he was Chief of Physical Therapy at this esteemed institution. It soon became apparent that he had a remarkably unusual character. Touch being his medium, Corbitt spoke very little, taking notably meticulous care with his patients, many of whom had severe handicaps. Always concentrating intensely, he was completely and quietly consumed with exploring the most effective treatments for each one. He often worked through asthmatic stress, spent extra hours and days off helping colleagues and clients, and continues to do the same although retired. His life is a scholarly, spiritual pursuit of the knowledge of healing and human excellence.
Ted Corbitt left us early this morning. Do your best today in tribute to an amazing, incomparable man who never did less than that…every day and always.

Sarah Yuster

Ted Corbitt - Pre-Race Mantra

*I will be relaxed and free of all restrictions, free of all coordination tensions in running.
*I will feel buoyant and strong while running.
*I will run in a perfect pacing coordination form.
*I will be at ease during the morning of a/the race and my pulse will not accelerate before or during the pre-race physical examination.
*I will run hard and enjoy the effort.
*My gastro-intestinal system will remain normal in function on the day of a race and especially during a race.
*On the day of a race all body organs will function perfectly, especially the heart and digestive systems.

The Inspiration

Ted Corbitt
Once more around the track –
A victory lap.
Though death’s come up on the inside lane.
Never lay your body down.
There is no finish.
There is no line.
Once more around the track,
Let us see your serenest of smiles.
Let us celebrate your sinew and muscle
and marvel at your workman’s gait.
Your refusal to wait.
And your absolutely indefatigable
commitment to
Once more around the track.
Father, friend, hero.
Long distance visionary.
Healer with the gentle laugh.
May we run with you?
May we know that same breeze
humming through our ears?
May we know what you think,
Or don’t think about
As you log 50, 70, 100 miles,
As you put heel to ground,
As you beat the sound of your humanity.
Into the yielding earth?
Once more around the track
Sage, mentor, idol.
Who says we can’t run the distance?
You did for 88 years.
Who says pain is an obstacle?
It was never enough reason to not do
Once more around Manhattan Island
Once more London to Brighton
Once more around the Olympic track.
So may we carry your torch.
Athlete, scientist, therapist, gentleman?
May we cheer your name, Ted?
May we catch a last glimpse of you doing
Once more around the track?
Forgive us if we lay your body down.
Forgive us if we follow your spirit
Once more around the track
Before we dry our eyes
And call it a day.

Caleen Sinnette Jennings - 12/13/07

Running legend,
Pioneer of ultra-marathoning,
Master physical therapist,
Extra-ordinary human being,
Humbleness yields glory
Ted Corbitt,
The Life Story

Running in the fields as a boy,
Young Ted ran as far as the eye could see,
Later in life his fields were fenced in,
He ran and ran to re-define the boundaries,
To follow his baseball hero,
Ever so cunning,
Ted Corbitt
The Jackie Robinson of Long Distance Running.

To become a legend,
One must first become a champion,
A Champion may fall to the ground,
But he will continue to fight round after round,
That’s why they call him champ.

A Legend is an extension of a champion,
An honorary title given by the people,
It cannot be bought or begged for on one knee,
Originating deep within the soul,
Shining bright for all to see,
If you were blessed to cross Ted’s path,
Then you can’t help but smile like me,
His secret,
“Just Be.”

Complete understanding,
What else can we say?
The goal is to reach your level,
On the mountain of self-actualization,
What the Japanese call, “The Way.”

His soul runs freely,
Flowing like poetry on the road,
Because he inspired so many,
His story will always be told,
The Father of Long Distance Running,
Silent Brahmin,
Saint of the Road.

Jack Mantione

Doctor of Physical Therapy