The Ted Corbitt Record


Olympian – Physical Therapist – Editor – Administrator – Educator - Father
“A Founding Father of Long Distance Running”
“The Father of Ultra- Marathon Running in the United States”
“An American Pioneer”

The Ted Corbitt Record Historical First

In 1952 became the first African American to represent U.S.A. in the Olympic Marathon.
The Olympics were held in Helsinki, Finland.  He finished 44th in 2:51:09.

Ted Corbitt won the National U.S.A. Marathon Championship in 1954 at Yonkers, NY, and became the first African American to win a national marathon championship.  Ted Corbitt would place 3rd in the U.S. Marathon Championship on four occasions (1952, 1955, 1957,1958).

Was first president of the New York Road Runners Club (NYRR) in 1958 and 1959.  The club now stages the world’s largest marathon in the world - New York City Marathon.  In 1958 the club started with 29 charter members and now has over 60,000 members.

Was the first editor (1958- 1978) of New York Runner the official publication of the New York Road Runners Club.

Was the first editor (1960) of the Road Runners Club of America’s national publication now called “Club Running”

Ted Corbitt was inducted in the inaugural National Distance Running Hall of Fame Class in 1998.  The inaugural class included Joan Benoit Samuelson, Kathrine Switzer, Frank Shorter, and Bill Rodgers.

The Ted Corbitt Record World Records & World Bests

On four occasions Ted Corbitt completed 300 mile training weeks while working full-time. The most weekly mileage run was done September 1 -7, 1966. The totals were 312.5 miles or averaging 44.6 miles per day. This is believed to be a world best weekly running total for someone working full-time.

Was history’s most prolific marathon runner 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.

Ted Corbitt ran two workouts per day for 13 consecutive years from January 1955 to July 24, 1968. This is believed to be a world best streak for two workouts per day.

Ted Corbitt highest monthly training miles were in July 1969 (1,002.5 Miles) and August 1969 (994 Miles) at age 50. This is believed to be a world best monthly running total for someone working full-time.

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. This is believed to be a world best weekly running total for someone working full-time.

Ted Corbitt on two occasions August 6, 1973 and October 11, 1973 totaled 50 training miles on a workday as a Physical Therapist. This is believed to be a world best daily running total for someone working full-time.

At age 82 in 2001, he walked 303 miles in 6 days setting an age group world record for a 6 day running event.

The Ted Corbitt Record American Records & American Bests

Ted Corbitt tied the record of Clarence DeMar for most consecutive Boston Marathons run under 3 hours, at 19 times, from 1954 to 1972.

On May 19, 1956, Ted Corbitt set an American Record for the marathon on a track running 2:42:25 in Philadelphia.

Ted Corbitt was ranked #2 in the world for Ultra-Marathon running throughout the 1960’s.  Ultra-Marathons are races longer than the 26.2 mile marathon distance.  On three occasions (1962 – 5:53:37, 1964 – 5:40:42, 1969 – 5:38:11), he set American road records at the London-to-Brighton 52.5 mile road race.

On October 15, 1966, he set an American Record for running 50 miles on the track.  His time was 5:54:15.  He also set American Records for 25 miles – 2:43:59, and 40 miles – 4:34:46 during this race held at Walton-on-Thames in England.

On November 28, 1968, Ted Corbitt at age 49 became the oldest American to win a U.S. national running title.  He won the National 50 mile road championship in Poughkeepsie, New York in a time of 5:39:43.

On October 25 – 26, 1969, he 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.

On October 25, 1970 at age 51, he set an American age group (50-54) record for 50 miles on the road of 5:34:01. The record still stands today 43 years later.  It should be noted at age 50, during the 1969 London-to-Brighton race, his estimated 50 mile split time was a superior 5:22:06.

On November 3 – 4, 1973, he 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.

The Ted Corbitt Record Historical Milestones

Ted Corbitt competed for the New York Pioneer Club (NYPC) his entire road running career starting in 1947.  The New York Pioneer Club was co-founded in 1936 by Mr. Joseph Yancey an African American.  The club was a model for racial integration during the Jim Crow era.  Athletes represented all races, creeds and abilities.

During the 1950’s, Ted Corbitt was consistently among the top 5 American finishers at the Boston Marathon.

Ted Corbitt’s finishing position among Americans at Boston:

3rd Place: 1952, 1954, 1955, 1957, 1958*
4th Place: 1956
5th Place: 1959
*Unofficial finisher
His 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.

Was the third President of the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) in 1960 & 1961.  The RRCA is the oldest and largest national association of running clubs in the country with currently over 200,000 members.

Authored and published the booklet “Measuring Road Running Courses” in August 1964.  This document initiated a program for accurate course measurement in the U.S.A. This ensured the legitimacy of the sport of long distance running with verifiable record keeping.

His lifetime total marathons and ultra-marathons completed were 223 from 1951 to 2003.

In 1966, he became the second runner in the history of the sport to finish 100 marathons.

Ted Corbitt – Physical Therapist Master Clinician and Teacher of Physical Therapy

Ted Corbitt worked for 44 years at the International Center for the Disabled starting in 1950.  He continued to treat patients until 3 months before his passing at age 88.

International Center for the Disabled (ICD) – New York

Staff Physical Therapist1949 – 1950
Supervisor, Remedial Gymnasium1950 – 1956
Assistant Chief of Physical Therapy1956 – 1968
Chief & Director of Physical Therapy1968 - 1986
Assistant Director of Physical Therapy1986 - 1994

He was one of the first African Americans to enter the Physical Therapy profession.  He was a long time member of the American Physical Therapy Association and was active with the New York chapter in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Ted Corbitt was recognized as a master clinician and teacher of Physical Therapy. He was considered an expert in Connective Tissue Massage, Deep Muscle Therapy, Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) Techniques, and Progressive Resistance Exercises.

He studied with the following legends in field health and rehabilitation:

He studied Connective Tissue Massage from the originator of this technique Elizabeth Dicke during two trips to West Germany in 1956 and 1962.

He studied PNF stretching or Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation with Margaret Knott in 1960 at Boston University and with Dorothy Voss in 1972 at Northwestern University.

He studied with Josephine Rathbone a leader in the field of corrective (adaptive) physical education and the medical application of exercise for rehabilitation, which became the field of Physical Therapy.

He studied Neurophysiology: Rood Techniques in 1965 at the University of North Carolina.  This technique was develop by Margaret Rood.

He studied with Lulu Sweigard a teacher of body balance and efficient movement.  She developed an education method that stressed the inherent capacity of the nervous system to determine the most efficient neuromuscular coordination for each movement.

He studied with Marge Kapsos an originator of cross-fiber friction massage which is a full body massage designed to release toxins, spasms and joint pain.

He was an early advocate (1950’s) in the United States for applying acupuncture techniques in his practice and the use of weight training for athletes.

He taught for over 25 years at Columbia University, and several years at New York University.  ICD had clinical education responsibilities for these other Greater New York area schools: Downstate Medical College, Hunter College, LaGuardia College, and Long Island University.

In 1960, Ted Corbitt co-authored a book “Hydrotherapy” a practical manual on the therapeutic use of water.  This was the first modern comprehensive textbook on this important branch of physical therapy.

New York University: MA in Physical Therapy