Race Across America


In two epic footraces across America in 1928 and 1929, an African American runner, Eddie “The Sheik” Gardner withstood daily death threats and intimidation to compete at the highest levels of the new sports of trans-America racing, and became a symbol hope and pride to Black America for his courage.

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Available in Paperback, Hardcover, and Kindle

Praise for Race Across America

"Life, it's said, is a marathon. But Charles Kastner shows us in vivid, historical detail that the life of runner Eddie Gardner was unique—a race that serves as an engrossing example of what it means to be resilient."

Kevin Patrick Allen, Documentary Producer

"This powerful book has the potential of placing long distance running in its rightful place center stage in the history and struggle of the African-American athlete. . . . A must read for readers interested in sport history."

Donald Spivey, Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Miami

"Charles Kastner spotlights the heroics of a previously unappreciated athlete in Eddie Gardner, who participated in a bizarre sporting event many years ago that few people remember. I applaud his efforts to give the Bunion Derbies their due as a quintessential American footrace."

David Davis, author of Waterman: The Life and Times of Duke Kahanamoku

"Kastner brilliantly delves into the phenomenon of transcontinental racing and the heroics of Eddie Gardner, an athlete on par with Jesse Owens and Joe Louis who combated Jim Crow laws while competing as a black person in a super-human challenge across America. I felt like I was right there beside him the whole way, a truly epic book!"

Dave Warady, Winner of the 1992 Runner’s World Trans America Footrace

"Race Across America captures the magnitude of challenges faced by Eddie Gardner as he competed in the greatest race on earth: desert heat, hours of mental and physical strain, endless mountains, intense rain, and racial barriers; and the winning spirit it took for him to reach the finish line."

Lorna Michael, 2018 Ultrarunner Hall of Fame

"Chuck Kastner masterfully brings to light the story of Eddie Gardner, the first great African American Ultramarathon runner of the 20th Century and in doing so, provides a powerful lesson in American and Civil Rights history."

Gary Corbitt, National Black Marathoners Association

"A fascinating look at the birth of transcontinental ultra-running, the courageous men who competed more than 90 years ago, and African American Eddie 'The Sheik' Gardner who ultimately endured the most."

Gary Theriault, ultra and adventure runner, ten-time Kona Ironman triathlon finisher

"Read the book!  The will power of these runners will impress you."

Thomas E. Coyne, runner since 1947, Peace Corps Worldwide

2020 Peace Corps Writers Paul Cowan Award for the Best Book of Non-Fiction

2020 Peace Corps Writers Paul Cowan Award for the Best Book of Non-Fiction

THE PAUL COWAN NON-FICTION AWARD, first given 1990, was named to honor Paul Cowan, a Peace Corps Volunteer who served in Ecuador from 1966 to 1967. Cowan wrote about his time as a Volunteer in Latin America in the ’60s. A longtime activist and political writer for The Village Voice, Cowan died of leukemia in 1988.

Latest News

Nov 14, 2022

Brian Kastner finished Fourth in the Inaugural 140 mile Route 66 Ultra-Marathon

Brian covered the 140 mile course in thirty plus hours of almost continuous running.  His brother Andrew paced him through fifty miles of the course.  It was a thrill of a life time to be part of this amazing race.

Photo caption:  From left to right, Brian Kastner, Marshall Ulrich, Andrew Kastner, and Heather Ulrich after the finish

Nov 11, 2022

PRE-Race Talk Route 66 Ultra Run 2022

It was a real thrill to have the chance to talk about my bunion derby books at the pre-race meeting, and to be introduced by the legendary ultra runner and race co-founder Marshall Ulrich. The three day ultra starts tomorrow morning in Seligman and finishes at Topock on the Arizona side of the Colorado. I’ll post updates throughout the race.


June 9, 2022

Route 66 Ultra Run 2022

Big news!! Legendary ultramarathoner Marshall Ulrich and his wife Heather just announced a three day ultramarathon on historic Route 66 in Arizona this November. The field is limited to 100 entries and it will fill up fast

My son Brian will run the race, and his brother Andrew and I will serve as his support. The runners will be following in the footsteps of the bunioneers who crossed Route 66 on the first ever trans-America marathon in 1928. I'll be there to give some history on the 1928 race and sign copies of my bunion derby books. I hope to see you on Route 66 this November!


About the Author

Charles B. Kastner is a Seattle-based writer who has spent the last twenty years learning and writing about the bunion derbies. In 2007, the University of New Mexico Press published his history of the 1928 race; in 2014, Syracuse University Press published his history of the 1929 race. He holds advanced degrees in business administration, history, and environmental biology. Kastner has run twenty-five marathons and one ultramarathon over a racing career that began when he joined his high school cross country team in 1970. In recent years, he has taken up the sport of boxing, a throwback to the days of the bunioneers, when many were both accomplished long-distance runners and prize fighters.

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