Ted Corbitt: Athletic Milestones
Most Training Miles Run in 7 Days
312.5 Miles (44.6 miles per day average)
September 1 – 7, 1966
On four occasions Ted Corbitt completed 300 mile training weeks. The other instances were in September 1964 (303.5 miles), September 1965 (310 miles) and August/September 1969 (302 miles).
*The runners of this era were true amateur athletes with full-time jobs and families.
*This record training was done on a four day work week taking advantage of the three day Labor Day weekend.
*Ted’s Manhattan Island (31 mile) runs became legendary. On Labor Day weekend he would run twice around Manhattan totaling 62 miles on three consecutive days.
New York Pioneer Club (NYPC) Member
Ted Corbitt competed for the NYPC his entire road running career starting in 1947.
*The club was co-founded in 1936 by Mr. Joseph Yancey an African American.
*The club was known not only for the world class athletes in track & field, race walking, and long distance running, but also known for accepting athletes of all abilities.
*The NYPC was a model for racial integration during the Jim Crow era of segregation. The athletes were of all races and creeds.
*Mr. Yancey’s vision was ten years before integration occurred in the NFL (1946), MLB (1947), and NBA (1950).
In 1952 became the first African American to represent U.S.A. in the Olympic Marathon
*1952 Olympics were held in Helsinki, Finland.
*Ted Corbitt finished 44th 2:51:09 in the Olympic Marathon.
Inducted in the inaugural National Distance Running Hall of Fame Class in 1998
*The inaugural class included Ted Corbitt, Joan Benoit Samuelson, Kathrine Switzer, Frank Shorter, and Bill Rodgers.
*Since 1998 the Hall of Fame in Utica, New York has had eight induction ceremonies.
Waitz &Corbitt Honored at National Track & Field Hall of Fame
Portraits of running icons Grete Waitz and Ted Corbitt — two legends who took long distance running to extraordinary fame in New York City — were unveiled Tuesday at The Armory. The portraits are showcased in the National Track & Field Hall of Fame.
Won the National Marathon Championship at Yonkers in 1954
*Became the first African American to win a national marathon championship.
*Yonkers Marathon is the second oldest marathon in the U.S. dating back to 1907.
*Yonkers was the U.S. National Marathon Championship race from 1938 to 1966.
*This victory was on May 16th and was son (Gary’s) third birthday.
*On May 17, 1954 was the landmark Supreme Court decision Brown vs. Board of Education which paved the way for integration and the civil rights movement.
At age 82, walked 303 miles in 6 days. Ted Corbitt set a new age group world record for a 6 day running event.
*The race was held April 29 – May 5, 2001 on the Ward’s Island a one mile loop in New York City.
*The race was conducted by the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team.
Ran the Boston Marathon 22 times from 1951 - 1974. Only 18 seconds separated his 1951 race of 2:48:58 and the 1974 effort of 2:49:16.
*The 1951 race was Ted Corbitt’s first marathon at age 32, and he finished in 15th place.
*Ted Corbitt finished in 6th place at Boston on three occasions (1952, 1956, 1958**)
*He finished among the top 15 finishers on 8 other occasions.
During the 1950s Ted Corbitt was consistently among the top 5 American finishers at the Boston Marathon.
Ted Corbitt finishing position among Americans at Boston:
3rd place – 1952, 1954, 1955, 1957, 1958**
4th place - 1956
5th place - 1959
Ted Corbitt failed the 1958 Boston Marathon pre-race physical along with two other leading American runners.
*His heart beat rate was very high and the doctors disqualified him along with Al Confalone and John Lafferty.
*All three ran the race unofficially starting 100 yards behind the field.
*Ted Corbitt finished in 6th place, Al Confalone was 7th, and John Lafferty was 9th.
*Ted Corbitt high heart beat rate was due to race day excitement and the possibility of a 3rd place finish.
The New York Pioneer Club (NYPC) won the Boston Marathon team championship in 1955 and 1957.
*The 1955 team was Rudy Mendez (10th), Ted Corbitt (11th) and Louis Torres (14th)
*The 1957 team was Rudy Mendez (9th), Ted Corbitt (11th) and John Conway (16th).
*NYPC was an integrated club open to all races, nationalities, and abilities.
Ted Corbitt ran the Boston Marathon 19 consecutive years under 3 hours 1954 – 1972.
*Ted Corbitt held the record for most Boston Marathons run under 3 hours along with Clarence DeMar. DeMar’s streak went from 1922-1940.
*John A. Kelley had 18 years of sub 3 hours races between 1935-1951
*Neil Weygandt broke Ted Corbitt’s record going 23 consecutive years under 3 hours starting in 1967. Neil went on to an amazing 45 consecutive years (1967 – 2011) of finishes at Boston.
Ted Corbitt’s marathon personal record of 2:26:44 was set January 5, 1958 at the Shanahan Marathon in Philadelphia
*At the time this was the third fastest time ever recorded by an American.
*John J. Kelley and Nick Costes were the two Americans to have ever run faster
Ted Corbitt was the second person in road running history to finish 100 marathons.
*This was achieved at the 1966 Yonkers Marathon which was the national championship race.
*He placed 22nd out of 105 starters in a time of 2:51:42.
*Mike O’Hara was the first runner to ever achieve this milestone in either 1962.
Ted Corbitt was history’s most prolific marathon runners from May 1969 until February 1981.
*During this 12 year period Ted Corbitt went from 132 to 196 marathons finished.
*He held the distinction of having run more marathons than anyone in the history of the sport.
*Clarence DeMar the seven time winner of the Boston Marathon completed 96 marathons.
*Mike O’ Hara exceeded DeMar’s record in 1962 and reached 131 marathons by 1966.
*Ted Corbitt passed O’Hara’s mark in 1969 and reached 198 marathons by 1980.
*Sy Mah broke Corbitt’s mark in 1981 and reached 524 marathons by 1988.
*Norman Frank then became the new record holder for most marathons completed in 1994.
World Record Holders for Most Marathons Finished
Clarence DeMar: 1910 - 1962 96
Mike O'Hara: 1962 - 1969 131
Ted Corbitt: 1969 - 1981 198
Sy Mah: 1981 - 1994 524
Norman Frank: 1994 - 1997 965
Ted Corbitt’s final count of 223 includes walking 9 marathons and 16 ultramarathon between 1989 - 2003
Ted Corbitt’s lifetime total marathons and ultra-marathon completed were 223.
*Ted Corbitt finished 198 marathons and ultra-marathons from 1951 to 1981.
*In addition he walked the New York City Marathon nine times from age 70 to age 80.
*On two occasions (1990 & 1991) he broke 6 hours (5:52 & 5:56) walking the New York Marathon.
*Starting in 1993 at age 74 until age 84, he walked in sixteen ultramarathons events ranging 6 hour races to two 6 day events.
Ted Corbitt was ranked #2 in the world for Ultramarathons throughout the 1960’s. This is based on his five appearances at the famed London-to-Brighton 52.5 mile road race.
* London-to-Brighton road race served as the de facto world championship for ultra-marathons in the 1960’s.
*His fastest performance was set in 1969 at age 50.
*On three occasions (1962, 1964, 1969) he set American Road Records at this distance.
*Ted Corbitt at London to Brighton:
*Bernard Gomersall was the dominant ultramarathoner of this era with four London-to-Brighton wins and one Comrades Marathon win.
On October 25, 1970, Ted Corbitt set an American age group (50-54) record that still stands today 43 years later.
*The race was the National A.A.U. U.S. 50 Mile road championship in Rocklin, California.
*Bob Deines set an American Record 5:15:19 with a 3 second win over Skip Houk. Darryl Beardall was third in 5:18:55.
*Ted Corbitt finshed 6th in 5:34:01 at age 51 setting the still standing record.
*50 Mile split times during Ted Corbitt’s London-to-Brighton (52.5 mile) road races are unavailable.
*Below are Ted Corbitt’s estimated 50 mile times during his five London-to-Brighton appearances. In his fastest effort he averages 6:26 per mile, and was 12 minutes faster than the Rocklin race.
On October 25 – 26, 1969, Ted Corbitt set an American Record for running 100 miles on the track. His time was 13:33:06 at age 50.
*The race was held at Walton-on-Thames in England.
*This race was 4 weeks after his 2nd place London-to-Brighton 52.5 mile effort
*Ted Corbitt finished 3rd in this race. The winner John Tarrant set a World Record 12:31:10.
*The previous American Record held by an amateur was James Saunders February 21, 1882 at the American Institute Ring, New York indoors. His time was 17:36:14.
On November 3-4, 1973, Ted Corbitt set an American Record for running 24 Hours on the track. His distance was 134.7 miles at age 54.
*The race was held at Walton-on-Thames in England.
*Ted Corbitt finished 3rd in this race. The race was won by Ron Bentley in a world record distance of 161.3 miles.
*The previous American Record was held by Jared R. Beads who ran a solo 121.25 miles in 22 hours, 27 minutes at Westport, Maryland in October 1969.
On November 28, 1968, Ted Corbitt at age 49 became the oldest American to win a U.S. National running title.
*Ted Corbitt won the National A.A.U U.S. 50 Mile road championship in Poughkeepsie, New York.
*His time was 5:39:43 and less than two minutes off Skip Houk’s American Record.
*Observers called the race an “epic battle” with Wayne Van Dellen who finished second.
On October 15, 1966, Ted Corbitt set an American Record for running 50 miles on the track. His time was 5:54:15.
*The race was held at Walton-on-Thames in England.
*This race was 3 weeks after his 5th place London-to-Brighton 52.5 mile effort.
*Ted Corbitt finished 5th in this race. The race was won by Allan Phillips in a world record time of 5:12:39.
*The previous American Record was held by Hugo Kauppinen of Finnish-American A.C. in the New York Metropolitan A.A.U. 50 Mile track race on Staten Island in May 1934. His time was 6:46:10.
On February 22, 1959, Ted Corbitt won the 1st Annual “Cherry Tree” Marathon in 2:38:57 on the MaCombs Dam Park course in the Bronx at Yankee Stadium.
*This was one of the first races put on by the newly established New York Road Runners Club.
*There were 12 starters and 6 finishers.
*The Cherry Tree Marathon held during the 1960’s was the predecessor race to the New York City Marathon.
On March 8, 1959, Ted Corbitt won the 1st Ultramarathon conducted by the New York Road Runners Club. The distance was 30 miles and his time was 3:04:13.
*There were 14 starters and 4 finishers.
*The race was conducted on MaCombs Dam Park course in the Bronx at Yankee Stadium
*Mike O’Hara won a 30 mile race on the same course in 1958 in a time of 3:33:17.
*Mike O’Hara was second in 30 mile race in 1955 3:37:15 on the MaCombs course. There’s no record available who won this race.
*One of the first known Ultramarathon races in the U.S. was from Providence to Boston that dates back to the 1920s.
Over a 34 year competitive running career (1947 – 1981) of races from 2 Miles to 24 Hours, Ted Corbitt never dropped out of race.
On October 22 – 23, 1994, Ted Corbitt at age 75 walked 69 miles in 22 hours in the Ted Corbitt 100 Mile race that celebrated the 25th anniversary of his American Record at this distance.
*This was the only time he ever dropped out of a race over 59 years of running and walking road races from 1947 to 2006.
*He had trained well for this race but was suffering both from a cold (the result of getting caught out in a thunderstorm during a recent training effort) and a sore ankle that he had sprained the week before.
*The race director Richard Innamorato of this Broadway Ultra Society event says the following:
“He could have finished but felt he couldn’t make the 30-hour deadline. I wished I would have known sooner or I would have extended the deadline. But he was fine about it.”
*The race was won by Roy Pirrung in 14:31:11.
Ted Corbitt in 1978 was the first recipient of the prestigious Abebe Bikila Award that recognizes outstanding contribution to the sport of distance running.
*Abebe Bikila was the double Olympic Marathon Champion (1960 & 1964) representing Ethiopia.
*He set world records at both Olympic races.
Ted Corbitt won four National Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Championships from 1954 to 1968. He was named to the All American AAU Track & Field Team in each of these four years.
National USA Championships won:
1954 – National AAU Marathon Champion – Yonkers, New York
1956 – National AAU 30 Kilometer Champion – Cincinnati, Ohio
1957 – National AAU 30 Kilometer Champion – Cincinnati, Ohio
1968- National AAU 50 Mile Champion – Poughkeepsie, New York
Ted Corbitt achieved seven American Records between 1956 and 1974.
The Six American Records set on the track are as follows:
1956 – Marathon – Philadelphia - 2:42:25
1966 – 25 Miles* – England – 2:43:59
1966 – 40 Miles* - England – 4:34:46
1966 – 50 Miles* – England – 5:54:15
1969 – 100 Miles – England – 13:33:06
1973 – 24 Hours – England – 134.7 Miles
*Three records were set in this 50 Mile race at Walton-on-Thames Track
One American Record was set on the road:
1962 -52.5 Mile – London to Brighton – 5:53:37
Ted Corbitt improved on this record in 1964 and 1969
Ted Corbitt placed either 1st or 2nd for eleven straight years in the Metropolitan (New York) AAU Marathon Championship.
*The annual Yonkers Marathon served as the National and Metropolitan (New York) Championship respectively.
Ted Corbitt won the first Philadelphia Marathon in 1954. The race was known as the Shanahan Marathon from 1954 to 1965.
*There were 10 starters in 1954.
*Winning time was 2:36:06 over a four lap course at Fairmount Park.
*Ted Corbitt’s four wins in the Philadelphia Marathon are the most wins to date for this race.
Ted Corbitt was one of the first distance runners ever to use weight training. He started to use Progressive Resistance Exercises to build muscle strength while at the University of Cincinnati (1938 – 1942). He used pulley weights while in college. His real drive to use resistance exercises came from studies in becoming a physical therapist.
Ted Corbitt won 12 marathons from 1954 to 1964, and was the winner in 24 Ultra-Marathons from 1959 to 1972.
Ted Corbitt’s best competitive racing year was 1957. He placed top three in four of five national championship races from 15k to the marathon.
Ted Corbitt won races from 60 yards to 50 miles.
In 1933 - Won first sprint race entered: Junior High School 60 yard Championship
In 1939 - Won first cross-country race entered: 4 miles
In 1940 – Won first indoor race: 2 miles
In 1959 - Won first ultramarathon entered: 30 miles
Ted Corbitt began formal training in 1936 at Woodward High School in Cincinnati. In high school he competed at 100, 220 Low Hurdles, 880, and Relays.
At the University of Cincinnati (1936 – 1942) he competed at 220, 440, 880, mile, 2 mile, and mile relay. He ended his college career as quarter miler.
Ted Corbitt was among the first distance runners to do what became known as Interval Running. He got the idea while in high school in 1937 watching a rival high school team in Cincinnati train. Also being a Boy Scout he learned about the Little Wanamaker Mile where you walk 55 yards and then run 55 yards and keep repeating this until you cover a mile. He experimented with interval training at the University of Cincinnati and adopted it fully in the late 1940s as he began his distance running career.
In the 1920s, Pavvo Nurmi trained alternating slow and then fast running to increase stamina and endurance.
In the late 1930s, two German physiologist Reindell and Gerschler develop the concept of Exercise Heart Range and exact rest periods for the heart to return to a particular levels before the next interval.
In the 1940s, Gunder Haegg and Arne Anderson came close to breaking the four minute mile using the technique of speed play which is called farlek in Swedish.
Ted Corbitt would do 60 X 440 with a 220 jog interval sessions. This was a workout made famous by Emil Zatopek the 1952 3-time gold medalist at the 1952 Olympics.
Ted Corbitt was one of the first long distance runners (early 1950s) to do a lot of running in the streets, as training, by running home to work or work to home or both ways. Postman Mike O’Hara and policeman Edo Romagnoli both of Queens, New York ran to work at times in the 1940s. Clarence DeMar was the first to run to and from work. Ted Corbitt exploited the idea to an extreme by comparison. For example on two occasions in 1973, he ran 50 miles on a workday with three workouts. Also in 1973 he ran 207.2 miles on five work days.
Ted Corbitt’s first loss in an ultramarathon on U.S. soil occurred December 12, 1965. Jim McDonagh won this 36 mile race in Queens, New York. Corbitt had won 17 consecutive ultra-marathon races since 1959.
*Jim & Ted would race 16 times in ultramarathons between 1965 to 1971.
*Jim would win ten times (62%) to six wins (38%) for Ted.
*This turned into a tremendous rivalry including these three classic ultra-races in 1966.
April – 45 Miler – McDonagh wins by less than 10 seconds.
May – 37.5 Miler – Corbitt wins by 2 minutes.
July - 50 Mile National Championship – McDonagh wins on a hot day where Ted Corbitt set an aggresive pace passing the marathon mark in 2:49.
Ted Corbitt’s longest workout ever was 101.5 Miles done on October 21-22, 1973 in preparation for his first and only 24 Hour race held in London two weeks later. The run took 22 hours, 2 minutes, 30 seconds.
Ted Corbitt won the Canadian National Marathon Championship, August 20, 1955, at Three Rivers, Quebec, Canada. The race was run in temperature ranging from 95 – 100 degrees. The winning time was 3:00:05.
The global running historian Andy Milroy credits Ted Corbitt with creating the term Ultramarathon which defines distances greater than 26.2 miles.
*Ted Corbitt began using the term ultra-long distance runs in a 1962 correspondence with Browning Ross and an article “Racing from London to Brighton.”
*Andy Milroy believes the worldwide adoption of the term ultramarathon began after the January 1967 article by Ted Corbitt in Distance Running News called “Aspects of Running Ultramarathons Races.”
The idea of a five -borough New York City Marathon was first conceived by Ted Corbitt. George Spitz took the concept to Fred Lebow. The 1976 New York City Marathon became a reality because of the work of George Spitz and his influence with other local politician particularly Percy Sutton.
Ted Corbitt highest monthly training miles were in July 1969 (1,002.5 Miles) and August 1969 (994 Miles) at age 50. In July 1969 he rested four days while averaging 37 miles a day. He completed over 800 mile training months on four other occasions July 1968 (872), July 1973 (828 miles), August 1973 (817 miles), and January 1968 (806.6). These achievements happened while working full-time as a physical therapist
Ted Corbitt ran two workouts per day for 13 consecutive years from January 1955 to July 24, 1968. During the third workout on this 36 mile July training day (20 miles to work; 3 miles lunchtime; 13 miles to home) Corbitt encountered a dog on the run home that led to an injury ending the streak.
Berwick Marathon – Run for the Diamonds
This Thanksgiving Day race with a 103 year history, dating back to 1908, was unique in that road racers would face track and cross-country specialist along with college athletes over this 9 mile course in Berwick, Pennsylvania.
Ted Corbitt’s ability to be competitive in all distance from 15 Kilometers and longer is illustrated in his performances at Berwick. On three occasions, he finished among the top 10 finishers; 1954 10th, 1955 6th, 1958 8th
Ted Corbitt on two occasions totaled 50 training miles on a workday as a Physical Therapist. He was preparing for a 24 hour race in England.
August 6, 1973
Morning: 20 Miles – 2:53:20
Lunch: 5 Miles – 36:28
Evening: 25 Miles – 4:20:05
October 11, 1973
Morning: 20 Miles – 2:50:10
Lunch: 6 Miles – 41:25
Evening: 24 Miles – 4:20:41
Ted Corbitt’s record mileage during a five day work week was 207.2 miles done July 9 -13, 1973. This averages to 41.4 miles per day.
From 1954 – 1959, Ted Corbitt ran in 21 Senior New York Metropolitan AAU Championship races ranging in distances of 15K to the marathon. In 90% of these championship races, he finished among the top 3 runners.
Senior New York Metropolitan AAU Championship Races
15K to Marathon
1954 – 1959
First Place – 7 times – 33%
Top 3 – 19 times – 90%
Ted Corbitt ran in 26 Senior U.S. National AAU Championship races from 1954 – 1959. In 38% of these USA championship races, he finished among the top 3 runners. In 50% of these races, he finished among the top 5 runners.
Senior USA National AAU Championship Races
15K to Marathon
1954 – 1959
First Place – 3 times – 12%
Top 3 – 10 times – 38%
Top 5 – 13 times – 50%
Top 10 – 23 times – 88%