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Celebrating Ultramarathon Running History – 50 Years Ago Today!


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  • Celebrating Ultramarathon Running History – 50 Years Ago Today!

    I'd like to schedule a conference call soon with the runners and spectators who were part of this road running classic.

    Celebrating Ultramarathon Running History – 50 Years Ago Today!

    October 18, 1970
    The Greatest Ultramarathon Race (of its day) on United States Soil!
    Ted Corbitt sets a 50 Mile World Age Group Record that Still Stands Today!

    “50 Miles of Pure Drama” *

    The Ted Corbitt Diary:
    National AAU 50 Mile Championship, Rocklin, Calif. Field of 49
    6th place 5:34:01 – Broke American record of 5:38
    10 X 5 loops – Refreshment stations at 2.5 miles.
    Ran in second group, never made contact with leaders two of whom survived, and 3 men passed me one in last 2 miles (5th place) Dr. Pagliano. Winner passed me (and ran all the way with me or just behind until) just after half-way on 6th lap.
    I ran 32, 63, 1:35, 2:06, 2:38 ----------4:20:39, 4:57
    Ran OK and accelerated at 7.5 miles. Missed one water stop and got only cup of water at next. Slowed a bit to avoid fatigue problems. Was tired at 30 miles and had a “living nightmare” for 10 miles. Revived a bit in last 10 miles but not enough.

    *Joe Henderson called it “the best race I ever saw” in his article for Distance Running News.

    The American record was broken by nearly 23 minutes by Bob Deines in 5:15:19.2. His margin of victory over Skip Houk was just 3 seconds.
    The world record in 1970 was 5:12:40.
    The first six runners were under the American Record.
    Natalie Cullimore finished 18th in 7:35:57 and became the first female to establish a standard of global excellence that caught the eye of other talented women.
    In Ted Corbitt’s 33 U.S. ultramarathons since 1959, he finished in the top 2 places in all but one race. This race represented a changing of the guard in U.S. ultramarathon history.

    Ted Corbitt said the following in a letter to John Chodes: “If I had not been aware of the force that the West Coast has become it would have been like walking into a big, big ambush. I was aware and on one occasion a few weeks ago I figured that I could break the American 50- mile record and finish as high as 10th place. I expected to break the American record even if I had a bad day and my run was not good. From 30 to 40 miles was a “living nightmare.” I ran very badly, losing ground where I had hope to close up the distance. We must have passed the marathon point in about 2:46 and I still felt reasonably ok at that point. As you know I had at least three efforts which were considerably better than the record in longer races. Now the new record is most respectable – but it can be had.”

    Note a year earlier at the age of 50, Ted Corbitt unofficial 50 mile split time during the London-to-Brighton 52.5 mile race was 5:22:06. There were no timers at the 50 mile check point thus no record.

    There were many notable individuals in this race:
    Ken Young who helped invent the sport with his pioneering work in record keeping finished 11th.
    Prolific racer Paul Reese and Walt Stack finished 19th and 22nd respectively.
    Jim McDonagh past national champion and first American to beat Ted Corbitt in an ultra, dropped out at 35 miles.
    Tom Derderian Boston Marathon Author/Historian and Greater Boston Track Club Coach dropped out at 35 miles.
    Bruce Dern the actor, dropped out at 30 miles.
    Joe Henderson running pioneer and author, dropped out at 30 miles.
    Pete League running pioneer and a first generation course measurement certifier, dropped out at 15 miles.

    The Finishers:
    1 Bob Deines 5:15:19.2
    2 Skip Houk 5:15:22
    3 Darryl Beardall 5:18:55
    4 Jose Cortez 5:30:42
    5 John Pagliano 5:33:03
    6 Ted Corbitt 5:34:01
    7 Gary Dobrenz 6:03:12
    8 Randy Lawson 6:05:45
    9 Bryan Geiser 6:07:40
    10 Rost Bruner 6:09:55
    11 Ken Young 6:20:37
    12 James Bowles 6:25:50
    13 R. Paffenbarger 6:26:15
    14 Tobe Lusionam 6:31:38
    15 Peter Mattei 6:29:29
    16 Al Meehan 7:02:43
    17 Pat Crevet 7:12:43
    18 Natalie Cullimore 7:35:57
    19 Paul Reese 7:38:49
    20 Brad Gieser 7:56:09
    21 Phil Schaffner 8:04:52
    22 Walt Stack 8:08:58
    23 Dave Cortez 8:32:18
    24 Mitch Kinsery 8:51:27
    25 Rex Dietberich 8:53:39
    26 Mike Ipsen 9:41:55

    Gary Corbitt
    Curator: Ted Corbitt Archives
    Historian: National Black Marathoners Association (NBMA)
    To learn more about Ted Corbitt and Running History visit:

  • #2
    I knew a handful of these guys growing up. On a couple of them the name is spelled wrong.


    • #3
      1971 RW Marathon Handbook.


      • #4
        Hey, which of these names are spelled wrong ?


        • #5


          • #6
            Originally posted by schigh View Post
            I knew a handful of these guys growing up. On a couple of them the name is spelled wrong.
            I suspect that 24th place is Mitch Kingery (not "Kinsery") who would have been in 7th grade. The next year in 8th grade he ran a 2:47 marathon.


            • #7
              Originally posted by Chicago View Post

              I suspect that 24th place is Mitch Kingery (not "Kinsery") who would have been in 7th grade. The next year in 8th grade he ran a 2:47 marathon.
              I thought that myself....but I doubt it. 1973 MH has a Who'sWho and Kingery is in there because he qualified for the 72 marathon trials and no mention of a 50 miler. Though I suppose it possible...for such a slow time.
              Last edited by Conor Dary; 10-19-2020, 09:36 PM.


              • #8
                I just looked up the October 1970 Long Distance Log article on the race and sure enough it is Mitch Kingery.

                Last edited by Conor Dary; 10-19-2020, 11:24 PM.