[Editor's Note: The Spartan Spotlight series brings you stories of men and women who caught our attention because they have excelled in their field and embraced the values of the Spartan Spirit.]

photo credit New York Times


by Jason Jaksetic

“You must be willing to suffer and keep on suffering. Running is something you just do. You don’t need a goal. You don’t need a race. You don’t need the hype of a so-called fitness craze.”

These are words of wisdom from a man who once ran 300 miles in one week and from a runner who also once ran a marathon a day for a month.

I must admit that I had never heard of Ted Corbitt until Spartan Race co-founder Joe De Sena made an aside comment to me.

“Ted Corbitt,” he said, “ is a true Spartan.” The conversation turned at that point and I was unable to follow up with a question.

A little research explained unequivocally what Joe meant.

Ted Corbitt once held the American records in the marathon and the 100-miler. He was an Olympian marathoner. Most importantly, he helped develop American ultra-running more than anyone else. He was one of the first people inducted into the Ultra Running Hall of Fame as well as the National Distance Running Hall of Fame.

Corbitt was running farther in his eighties than most people will ever attempt in their prime. At age 84 he covered 68 miles in 24 hours coming in 17th in a field of 35 presumably younger competitors.

The record times Corbitt set in the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s have obviously been surpassed by modern athletes. However, each of them was following in his footsteps.

For Ted Corbitt, distance running was an act of creation. No one was doing what he was doing. Here’s a thought experiment. Imagine telling someone that you are going to run 300 miles this week.

Most likely, you’d freak that person out. Probably, quite a bit. They would be astounded, yes, but that would immediately evaporate into a sense of curiosity about what mental imbalance you must possess.

And this is in a day and age where Ultra Running has become almost mainstream. Think about the world Ted Corbitt. Jogging for fitness wasn’t even mainstream in the 50’s.

Because of this we need to think of Ted Corbitt as an innovator and pioneer. He didn’t have technology aiding him.

He just had guts and a cheap pair of sneakers.

But then again, he had all anyone needs to propel themselves forward great distances.

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