Ted Corbitt – Tributes Flow

Posted on December 14, 2007 by

From Rich Innamorato

Dear Friends,

Today the music has died…………………….for the running community and for humanity. Ted Corbitt has sadly passed away at the age of 88 at the MD Anderson Center inHouston, TX. He bravely was fighting a personal battle against cancer, but had developed heart and respiratory complications which could not be cured.

I was able to visit Ted this past Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. It was heartbreaking to see this giant of a man in a hospital bed. When he first saw me, he amusingly asked, “You flew?” I am a notorious bad flyer, and Ted had witnessed some of my previously anxieties. I responded, “Weren’t you glad that you weren’t in the seat next to me.”

I greatly thank you for all your heartfelt messages, and so did Ted. He was not able to read them, so I read each one to him with a brief introduction of the “writer” of each message. Your words were very comforting.

We all know his legendary feats as a runner, but he was even a far greater person.

He was a humanitarian. One of his great gifts was not to prejudge people just as he would not want to be prejudged. He accepted you for who you were and allowed you to be yourself.

He was healer…………… and dedicated his life to provide cure and comfort to the critically disabled and injured. He was still treating patients just before his latest illness.

He was a scholar. He had a great propensity to “learn” no matter the subject matter. His own success, whether it was cerebral or physical, was due to that desire to learn. And how he could apply the newly-found information the next time.

He was a marvel. How he would push his limits no matter the obstacles. Even as an octogenarian, he walked 303 miles in 6 days while enduring shin splints. Life was a series of tests for him, and it was the partaking that was the most important not the passing or failing.

He led by example every single day, and his character, dedication, kindness and values all touched our lives. We are richer to know him or know of him.

May he always live in peace and be blessed by God. I will greatly miss him.


Rich Innamorato


From Andy Milroy

Ted Corbitt was one of the most remarkable men of his generation. Period.

His achievement in making the US Olympic marathon team in 1952 as an Afro-American distance runner was notable, his major impact on developing the US Ultra and subsequently contesting the then de facto World Ultra Championships – the London to Brighton was important, he was among the leading two or three runners each time he ran. He also set numerous US Ultra track records. He was, in my opinion, the greatest American ultrarunner of the second hald of the 20th century.

However it is his work in the RRCA, in developing the calibrated bicycle method of course measurement in the United States, following the pioneering work of John Jewell in England, that is truly historic. It was to lead to the present day US Road Race Industry which is so influential world wide.

It was when I was investigating how the word “Ultramarathon” came to be coined, that I got the true measure of the man. The reply I got back from him was probably the most detailed and well researched I have ever received.

It was he who had actually coined the word, replacing the previous titles like Supermarathon etc.

Ted Corbitt was not just a great runner, not just a great athletics adminstrator, he was much more than that.