Remembering Andy Payne, the Oklahoman who won the Bunion Derby

Oklahoma City resident Norma Roupe said her dad, the late Andy Payne, rarely talked about the International Trans-Continental Foot Race from Los Angeles to New York that he won in 1928, logging more than 3,400 miles in 84 days.
by Ed Godfrey Published: May 26, 2012
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Norma Roupe's father wasn't one to brag.

The 80-year-old Oklahoma City resident said her dad, the late Andy Payne, rarely talked about the International Trans-Continental Foot Race from Los Angeles to New York that he won in 1928, logging more than 3,400 miles in 84 days.

“When I was a little girl, other people would talk to me about it,” Roupe said. “I don't think it occurred to me what a feat it was until I was a lot older.”

On Sunday, the annual Andy Payne Memorial Marathon will be held in Stars and Stripes Park at Lake Hefner in memory of Payne and his remarkable achievement.

“The whole thing is rather astounding,” said Milly Griffis of Norman, who authored a book about Payne and the Bunion Derby.

Payne, who died in 1977 at age 70, was just 20 years old in 1928 when he entered the transcontinental race against 198 other runners from America, Africa and Europe.

Payne, who was part Cherokee, was running for the first place prize of $25,000 so he could save his family's farm at Foyil and marry his sweetheart.

His father took out a bank loan so his son could travel to California and enter the race, which the press corps dubbed the Bunion Derby because so many runners suffered foot injuries.

It was organized by flamboyant promoter C.C. Pyle, often called Cash and Carry Pyle, who was a theater owner and sports agent.

Pyle represented American football star Red Grange, who traveled with the runners along with press corps and a carnival caravan to entertain crowds and raise money.

He had pitched the idea for the race to the Route 66 Association, based in Tulsa, as a way to publicize the new road that opened two years earlier. The Los Angeles-to-Chicago portion of the race would be on U.S. 66.

Pyle also wanted to make money from the event. He charged each competitor a $25 entry fee and a $100 deposit, which Pyle saved in case the runners dropped out and needed money to get back home.

The starting line for the Bunion Derby was the now-defunct Ascot Speedway in Los Angeles. The finish line was at Madison Square Garden in New York.

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by Ed Godfrey
Reporter Sr.
Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more...
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Andy Payne Memorial Marathon

Where: Stars and Stripes Park, Lake Hefner

When: 6:30 a.m. Sunday

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