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Bunion Derby's Andy Payne

"C. C. Pyle's International Transcontinental Footrace" was a 3,423.3-mile endurance contest from California to New York. Dubbed the "Bunion Derby" by the press, the race was the brainchild of sports promoter Charles C. Pyle. Andrew "Andy" Hartley Payne (1907-77), a Cherokee from near Foyil, Oklahoma, won the eighty-four-day competition and its twenty-five thousand-dollar first prize.

An international field of 199 "Bunioneers" started from Los Angeles's Ascott Speedway on March 4, 1928. Following Route 66 to Chicago, Payne led the field into Chelsea, Oklahoma, the event's midway point. In Oklahoma the racers were greeted by large crowds that included Gov. Henry Johnston and Will Rogers. Running an improvised course between Chicago and New York, the athletes once logged 74.6 miles in a day. Such exertion took its toll, and only fifty-five contestants finished the race at New York City's Madison Square Garden on May 26, 1928. Averaging roughly six miles an hour, Andy Payne crossed thirteen states in an elapsed time of 573 hours, 4 minutes, and 34 seconds.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Bill Crawford, "The Bunion Derby," Oklahoma Today 48 (May-June 1998). "Andy Payne," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. James H. Thomas, The Bunion Derby: Andy Payne and the Great Transcontinental Footrace (Oklahoma City: Southwestern Heritage Books, 1980).

Jon D. May

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