What to Watch: The Great American Footrace

As part of Vision Maker Media's "40 years, 40 films, 40 weeks" program, one archived PBS film will be re-released each week.

Watch them while they are available!

This week's featured film is: The Great American Footrace

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In 1929, Cyrus Avery, an ordinary Oklahoma businessman, teamed up with C. C. Pyle, the “P. T. Barnum of Professional Sports,” to hold a transcontinental footrace. More than 100 men of all races and nationalities started the race in California and faced all manner of obstacles—from extreme weather to poor food and living conditions, to prejudice to injury—to make the cross-country journey across the United States, ending in New York City. This “Bunion Derby” pushed human endurance to the limits in an unforgettable show of “ballyhoo."

19-year-old Andy Payne, a small-town Cherokee boy, takes home the gold after winning a grueling 3,422-mile foot race designed to bring attention to the newly constructed Route 66 Highway. The race, recounted in this Emmy-nominated film, became one of the wildest promotion schemes in history, allowing Andy to win enough money to marry his girl and keep the family farm.