Claremore Daily Progress

Community News

September 26, 2012

Remembering... The Great Bunion Derby Andy Payne

CLAREMORE — This article appeared in the June 28, 1953 Claremore Progress by Bill Waller, Progress News Editor.

In March, 1928, the great Bunion Derby, a footrace across the United States, began in California, and Andrew Payne, the local entry, took off walking east with the rest of them. 
The Claremore businessman, who launched a drive to keep Payne in funds, sent $100 to Williams, Arizona to be picked up by the contestant as he passed through that town.  
A drive was started immediately to raise more money for Payne to pick up at Amarillo, Texas.  
He was paying the expenses of his trainer, as well as himself, and Claremore helped to lessen the burden by placing container in stores where adults and children could drop coins or bills for his expenses.
Much to the joy of the partisan Rogers county crowd, Payne was 40 feet ahead of his nearest competitor, John Cornick of Saskatoon, Canada, when they crossed the city limits at Claremore on Tuesday, April 17.  
The race was based on elapsed time between cities, and Payne was in the lead in both elapsed time and in the running when he hit home territory.
The runners did not stop in Claremore but accepted drinks of water or lemonade from their trainers in the crowd along both sides of US 66.  Payne was also handed a fresh $100 bill from the chamber of commerce.
The schools were turned out, business houses were closed, and flags decorated the streets while the high school band paid a tribute to Payne.  
Claremore represented the half-way mark on the cross country.
The Progress reported that the highway south of Claremore was lined on both sides for several miles as the runners neared the city.  
Payne could not get a challenge from the runners as he sprinted into Claremore to the cheers of what the Progress described as a “sea of humanity” long the road.

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