The 1929 Bunion Derby (Hardcover)

Johnny Salo and the Great Footrace Across America (Sports and Entertainment)

By Charles B. Kastner

Syracuse University Press, 9780815610366, 305pp.

Publication Date: March 31, 2014

List Price: 24.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


On March 31, 1929, seventy-seven men began an epic 3,554-mile footrace
across America that pushed their bodies to the breaking point. Nicknamed
the "Bunion Derby" by the press, this was the second and last of
two trans-America footraces held in the late 1920s. The men averaged
forty-six gut-busting miles a day during seventy-eight days of nonstop racing
that took them from New York City to Los Angeles. Among this group,
two brilliant runners, Johnny Salo of Passaic, New Jersey, and Pete Gavuzzi
of England, emerged to battle for the $25,000 first prize along
the mostly unpaved roads of 1929 America, with each man pushing the
other to go faster as the lead switched back and forth between them. To
pay the prize money, race director Charley Pyle cobbled together a traveling
vaudeville company, complete with dancing debutantes, an all-girl
band wearing pilot outfits, and blackface comedians, all housed under
the massive show tent that Pyle hoped would pack in audiences. Kastner's
engrossing account, often told from the perspective of the participants,
evokes the remarkable physical challenge the runners experienced and
clearly bolsters the argument that the last Bunion Derby was the greatest
long-distance footrace of all time.

About the Author

Charles B. Kastner is a long-distance runner and the author of Bunion Derby: The 1928 Footrace across America.