African-American Ted Corbitt Originally Conceived The New York City Five Borough Marathon

A virtual panel discussion on Saturday, November 6 focuses on the hidden history of the world's largest marathon.
Ted Corbitt
Ted Corbitt
NEW YORK - Oct. 31, 2021 - PRLog -- There still seems to be some confusion about the originator of running the New York City Marathon through the five boroughs. Scanning the literature on this subject, George Spitz is incorrectly credited with originating the idea. His role was pivotal and led to the race traversing each borough. However, the concept originated with 1952 Olympic marathoner Ted Corbitt. Mr. Spitz took Mr. Corbitt's idea to the Manhattan Borough President, Percy Sutton. Mr. Sutton gave the green light for the race to happen.

The Ted Corbitt Archives and, the soon to be started, Ted Corbitt Institute for Running History Research is interested in recruiting running history scholars to research topics and do storytelling, in a manner, that correctly represents running history. Using original source material to verify facts is the only proper way to record history. The Ted Corbitt Letter Collection provides the evidence about the origination of the five-borough concept.

Here's an exert from a May 22, 1976 letter from Ted Corbitt Letter to George Spitz. "I've just quickly read Paul Milvy's write up of the background of the upcoming Five Boro Marathon. He concluded that there is some confusion as to the origin of the race. It is clear to me that you brought up the idea of staging a race in NY City and that you wanted it to be special worthy of the "big apple," and that you sought possible financial and other assistance, with the hope of inviting some top foreign and out of town runners. In response to your question, I mentioned that a race could be set up and that the most unusual race you could set up would be a sweep thru all five boros, providing the distance wasn't too long. You brought up the subject again (all by phone) and stated that Sutton was definitely interested and enthusiastic about the idea. I then contacted Harry Murphy about the possibility of a route. I have Murphy's reply and subsequent correspondence. You see you deal by phone, and I write. To each his own."

The histories of the New York Road Runners (established around 1960) and the New York City Marathon originated with the New York Pioneer Club, which was founded in Harlem in 1936 by three Black gentlemen.

A virtual panel discussion on Saturday, November 6 from 1:00 to 2:30 EST will continue a process of setting the historic record straight about this hidden history of the world's largest marathon. The panelists include

Panel Topic: Harlem Set The Blueprint
  • Alison Mariella D├ęsir, moderator
  • Meb Keflezighi, panelist
  • Gary Corbitt, panelist
  • Pamela Cooper Chenkin, panelist
You must register for the event at Registrants will receive an email with livestream information closer to the panel date. Meb Keflezighi, Ted Corbitt, Gary Corbitt, and the New York Pioneer Club are in the National Black Distance Running Hall of Fame.

To learn more about long distance running and track & field history visit:

For more information, contact Gary Corbitt at
Curator: Ted Corbitt Archives
Historian: National Black Marathoners Association (NBMA)

National Black Marathoners Association

Source: » Follow
Email:*** Email Verified
Tags:Nyc Marathon, New York City Marathon, Nyrr
Location:New York City - New York - United States
Account Email Address Verified     Account Phone Number Verified     Disclaimer     Report Abuse

Like PRLog?
Click to Share