Unfortunately, Ted Corbitt is a lesser known runner in the canon of American distance running. Despite his induction into both the National Distance Running Hall of Fame and the American Ultrarunning Hall of Fame, his name seems to be overlooked when we talk about distance running history.
Born on a cotton farm in South Carolina, and the grandson of slaves, Corbitt graduated from the University of Cincinnati while competing for their track team. He was sometimes banned from competing at track meets when white athletes refused to compete against him. He often was refused the same lodging as his white teammates while traveling to competitions.
Following his graduation from Cincinnati, and his service in World War II, Corbitt earned a graduate degree in physical therapy at New York University. While in New York, he joined the country’s first integrated running organization, the New York Pioneer Club. Although he competed in shorter distances during college, Corbitt ran his first marathon in 1951. Only one year later, he competed in the same distance for the United States at the 1952 Helsinki Summer Olympics.
Ted Corbitt won the Philadelphia Marathon four times, was U.S. National Marathon Champion, ran 223 marathons, and also competed in Ultrarunning competitions during his storied running career. He was the co-founder and first president of the New York Road Runners. His contributions to American distance running are vast, and we are grateful for the path he paved. Legend.
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