Charles B. Kastner

Charles B. Kastner

I've been in love with the running for over forty years. The process of running on my own two feet has a primal, and, at times, spiritual appeal to me. I've competed in hundreds of races from ultra-marathons to five-kilometer runs. I've experienced the proverbial runner's high, but nothing I've done comes close to the Herculean effort required by the men who ran in two long forgotten footraces across America, nicknamed the bunion derbies. These races took place in the twilight of the 1920's when the nation was a buzz with Lindbergh's solo flight across the Atlantic and all records seemed there to be broken.

For the past fourteen years, I've studied and written about these epic footraces. My first book about the 1928 race--Bunion Derby: The 1928 Footrace Across America--was published in 2007. My second about the 1929 race--The 1929 Bunion Derby: Johnny Salo and the Great Footrace across America--was published this spring. The runners who competed in these trans-America races pushed themselves to the point of physical and mental collapse. Those that persevered to run the 3,500-mile distance across America are a constant reminder to me of the untapped sources of human potential that rest within each of us.

In my latest book, forty-three veterans from the first bunion derby return for a second try at trans-America racing. On March 31, 1929, these veterans joined thirty-four rookies in New York City for the start of the second and last Bunion Derby. Racing over mountains, and across deserts and prairies, the "bunioneers" pushed their bodies to the breaking point. The men averaged forty-six, gut-busting miles a day during seventy-eight days of non-stop racing that took them from New York City to Los Angeles in the waning months of the Roaring Twenties, just months before the Wall Street crash started the nation on its descent into the Great Depression.

The forty-three veterans dominated the race, after having learned hard-won lessons of pace, diet, and training during the first race. 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. Chasing them relentlessly, was Eddie "the Sheik" Gardner of Seattle, an African American who showed remarkable courage as he faced down the endemic racism he encountered on a daily basis.

To pay the prize money, race Director Charley Pyle cobbled together a traveling vaudeville company, complete with dancing debutantes, an all-girl band wearing pilots' outfits, and blackface comedians, all housed under the massive show tent that Charley hoped would pack in audiences. This is the story of, arguably, the greatest long distance footrace of all time.


Visit me on the web at and on Facebook at:

Read more Read less

You're getting a free audiobook.
$14.95 per month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

Best Sellers

    • Bunion Derby

    • The 1928 Footrace Across America
    • By: Charles B. Kastner
    • Narrated by: Andrew L. Barnes
    • Length: 6 hrs and 36 mins
    • Unabridged
    • Overall
      4 out of 5 stars 5
    • Performance
      4 out of 5 stars 5
    • Story
      4 out of 5 stars 5

    On March 4, 1928, 199 men lined up in Los Angeles, California, to participate in a 3,400-mile transcontinental footrace - dubbed the Bunion Derby - to New York City....

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • A Corridor of History

    • By Narda Pierce on 11-03-17

    Regular price: $19.95

Are you an author?

Help us improve our Author Pages by updating your bibliography and submitting a new or current image and biography.