Many consider that man on the left, Arthur Newton to be one of the visionaries in distance running, and to a degree, he was. I would not dispute that assertion, however, what I would dispute is Arthur Newton's assertion that - "Blacks would never run distance. They just don't have what it takes to do the distance." Yes, that cut and dry, plain and simple - fortunately, Black American Ted Corbitt responded to that assertion and eventually towered over Arthur Newton as a running visionary in ways Newton could not imagine. The first distance runners in America were Native Americans who have a rich running history. Running was a means of transportation, as it facilitated trading and sending of messages in addition to hunting and warfare. I can't prove but I have no doubt slaves escaping the South and heading North were essentially in many cases ultrarunning. Note, this whole distance running endeavor as an "event or sport" is a progression of what in the 1800's was called "Pedestrian Multi-Days" (power walking over hundreds of miles for days) - this was a huge sport drawing crowds, fans, great prize money, etc. A superstar of the sport and the first African American distance athlete I know of was named Francis Smith - a "pedestrian" great of the 1830's. Now before there was Ted Corbitt, there was Black American Fred Hitchborn, a grocery store clerk in Boston who set a goal to become a professional pedestrian for the prize money to be won - and that he did. He entered his first race at age 20 in 1879 at the Boston Music Hall. As is stated per the record, "He was the favorite and followed by many at races because of his color, a Black Man and he walked with some of the most prominent names in the walking world; Charles Rowell, Edward Weston, and George Guyon. Fred Hitchborn later changed his name to Frank Hart (he was also known as "Black Dan)" (there he is on the right showing a championship pedestrian belt). At races no one would shake his hand at the start, he received racial taunts and threats of violence from spectators. Once a spectator gave him some soda water he became severely ill and it was determined that he was poisoned. Even being ill-stricken he managed to beat Weston and Guyon. He won the Rose Belt race by completing 540 miles, one mile short of the world record. Hitchborn then cracked the world record at the 1880 O'Leary race by successfully running 565 miles". Click here & here to learn the history and check out Multi-Days.com. I've never met a Black person who ever heard of Fred Hitchborn/Frank Hart and most all African American historic archives neglect mentioning him - however thanks to Quintard Taylor & Blackpast.org & Charles B. Kastner - you can click those links and learn about "Black Dan". We Black Americans have a problem - it's ourselves, it's exemplified & worsened in distance running by people like Tony Reed & The Black Marathoners Association. Arthur Newton, Ted Corbitt, Frank Hart, and Delores Cross (former President of a Black College and only Black American to write an autobiography paralleling life and marathon running, below on the left) should be found on the website of any organization characterizing itself as "The National Black Marathoners Association". On their site the only book Tony Reed gives voice and attention to is his. The National Black Marathoners have no room for Delores Cross, only Tony Reed. Consequently he fosters and preserves a collective ignorance within the organization, inarguably illustrated in their logo and slogan. Let's be clear, Tony Reed co-opts the words National, Black, Marathon, & Association and all they imply and markets the identity of the authoritive source and bastion of American Black distance running. His press releases leverage his ethnicity and organization name to establish the appearance of legitimacy, this is his "currency" to promote himself, sell his books, and secure bookings as a speaker. In sum, Tony Reed exploits a history and legacy in name for his own promotion (while excluding giving that legacy any "air"). Have you seen The Great Debaters? The film, based on a true story, revolves around the efforts of Black debate coach (Denzel Washington) at historically Black Wiley College to place his team on equal footing with whites in the American south during the 1930s, when lynch mobs and Jim Crow laws abounded. The Wiley team eventually succeeds to the point at which they are able to take part in a debate with Harvard University. The pursuit of Black excellence need not only be in film, it should be in all quarters wherein we (Black People) present ourselves as national organizations and entities. Last week Tony Reed ran Marathons spaced 5 days apart, he assured himself the less than mediocrity he achieved finishing 645th out of 701 (inside runner talk, Tony's AG grade was 40.4% - no marathoner of this level could be in Runner's World - however Tony markets himself to Runner's World using his ethnicity and organization name and receives a type of "Negro Affirmative Action"). Tony's strategy is to promote himself, say he ran 100 marathons, use and exploit a legacy (Black Distance Running) while not paying tribute to it - and indeed insulting it with his logo and slogan of ignorance. I've chosen to be a contrary voice to the fraud that Tony Reed & the Black Marathoners Association is, for the reverence and dignity I hold to the legacy - the footsteps I run in. I will not be mentioning it again going forward on this blog - however I am boycotting the National Black Marathoning Association until such time that they 1) change their degrading logo and slogan and 2) incorporate some exposure to the legacy inherent to the name they co-opt. (I email reference a lot of people to them all the time). How does it work? Google the words Tony Reed Marathon and you tell me what you get?....an unmanageable situation for Tony Reed and the Black Marathoners going forward - and will remain until they institute change and dignify the words they've chosen to co-opt. Have a great day.