The Great American Foot Race: Ballyhoo for the Bunion Derby! (Hardcover)
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This accessible and thoroughly researched nonfiction debut introduces young readers to a fascinating, little-known event—the Transcontinental Foot Race, which came to be known as the Bunion Derby. It is set in 1928, the height of the Roaring Twenties—a time of optimism, a time of excess, and the Age of Ballyhoo. Publicity-seeking Americans tried to outdo each other with outrageous stunts. Dance marathoners danced for days on end, pole-sitters sat atop flagpoles for weeks, trained athletes worked to beat records, and Charles Lindbergh made the first solo transatlantic flight. What could top this? Cyrus Avery, an ordinary Oklahoma businessman, teamed up with C. C. Pyle, the "P. T. Barnum of Professional Sports," to hold a transcontinental foot race. More than 100 men of all races and nationalities started the race in California and faced all manner of obstacles—from extreme weather to poor food and living conditions, to prejudice to injury—to make the cross-country journey across the United States, ending in New York City. This "Bunion Derby" pushed human endurance to the limits in an unforgettable show of "ballyhoo." This book is written in a folksy style that perfectly captures the mood and tone of the late 1920s and includes archival photographs, a map of the derby route, stats, a bibliography, and source notes.
About the Author
Andrew Speno first learned of the Bunion Derby from a feature article in Runners' World. This is his first book. He lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, with his family.
"Speno's detailed, engaging narrative brings the times and the race vividly to today's readers...and plentiful archival material complements the lively narrative. An absorbing story of colorful times." -Kirkus Reviews
"In 1928... C. C. Pyle hatched the idea to have a transcontinental foot race. This inspiring book recounts the story of some of the 199 men...from all over the world who entered this grueling race. It recalls their struggles against difficult terrain and extreme weather conditions, injuries, and the prejudice some of the black racers encountered. The strength of this debut lies in the racers' compelling reasons for running. This overview of a little-known race will appeal to fans of extreme sports, history, and survival stories." - Booklist
"Speno's nonfiction debut hypnotically weaves the history of the 1920s into a colorful quilt of perseverance and ambition...Speno supports the story with a clear narrator who speaks to all readers. Young readers will lose themselves in the ballyhoo of the time, while older readers will want to further research the racers who have made a lasting impact on the world of running. Historical pictures and documents bring the story to life. Similar to Pyle's monumental race, this book is a must 'see.'" - VOYA