COMO YOU KNOW: Heart of America Marathon

Wednesday, April 3, 2013 | 10:06 a.m. CDT; updated 6:47 p.m. CDT, Friday, May 9, 2014

CoMo You Know, a community wiki, adds context to stories of local interest and serves as a reference tool for readers.


The Heart of America race began in 1960 as the only marathon between New York and Los Angeles. It claims to be the country’s fourth-oldest marathon, as well as one of its most difficult. The race began as a way to settle a friendly dispute between a boxing club and some distance runners in Columbia.


The race began in 1960 and is held annually on Labor Day. It offers one of the most difficult courses in the nation.

In 1962, the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department helped to sponsor the race.

Olympian Ron Daws won the race in 1964 and 1965.

Full text

Bill Clark, working with a group of boxers in the Columbia Athletic Club, started the marathon as a way for the boxers in the club to prove they were better at distance training than runners. Columbian Joe Schroeder was among the first to cross the finish line in the original marathon, which was held on Labor Day.

The race, which attracts participants from around the country, is held annually on Labor Day. The race led to other events, such as the birth of the Columbia Track Club, the National 100-mile walking championship, the American Centurion Club revival,and a long list of National AAU race-walking championships.

The course

The original course ended at the northwest corner of the town square in Fulton, and organizers measured by car odometer the distance back to Columbia. To get the classic distance of 26 miles, 385 yards, they continued on Route WW through Columbia on Broadway west to Conley Lane (now Stadium Boulevard), then north to the highway department garage, just south of what is now Interstate 70.

Links and sources

Official website

Maps of the course

2010 coverage

2009 coverage

2008 coverage

Updated: April 3, 2013

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