Race Across America

EDDIE GARDNER AND THE GREAT BUNION DERBIES

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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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

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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