The following is an Associated Press release dated June 2, 1927:
"Grants Pass, Ore., --Eight runners of the Karuk tribe of the lower Klamath region are in training here for the longest marathon on record to be run over the Redwood highway from San Francisco to Grants Pass, starting June 14th. The runners are under direction of two trainers and are working out daily over paved highways near this city to get used to the type of road to be encountered on their long jaunt. Camp has been established in the city park. Tribal names of the runners are Flying Cloud, Mad Bull, Fighting Stag, Rushing Water, Thunder Cloud, Big White Deer, Sweek (Eagle) and Falcon. The eight will run under the colors of the Oregon cavemen."
The news story fails to mention that this grueling marathon was 480 miles long! The "Redwood Marathons" were run in 1927 and 1928 to advertise the opening of the Redwood Highway. The eight Karuk Tribe members were from counties along the Redwood Highway and there were also three Zuni Tribe members from Gallup, New Mexico.
Photo courtesy of Bob Lee and the Redwood Empire Association.
Johnny Southard (Mad Bull) won the 1927 Redwood Marathon when he crossed the finish line in Grants Pass after seven days, 12 hours and 34 minutes. The grand prize was $1,000 in gold. One of the runners from New Mexico was reportedly in his late 50's. In 1928 there were 29 men who entered the race; Henry Thomas (Flying Cloud) was the winner, and he took home the prize of $5,000.
You can read a full account of these marathons in the book "Golden Memories of the Redwood Empire" at Google books: Redwood Marathons