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RIT 1979 Coast to Coast Run collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: RITArc-0568

Scope and Contents

Newsclippings are bound together combining copies of photographs and articles in chronological order documenting the trip across the country. All the articles are dated and photographs identified. Some articles are from RIT publications, others are local and national newspapersthat picked up the story. The original photographs were taken by RIT photographers Rodman Reilly, Sue Miller and Jim Castelein who accompanied the runners for parts of their journey. A book of contact sheets is included and corresponding negatives are part of the RIT University News negative collection found in the RIT Archives.

The bound volume was digitized and put on a DVD which is also in the collection. Added to the collection is a VHS videotape 1979 RIT "Coast to Coast," NBC Today Show, 1 year later. In addition, 3 other VHS videotapes were added to this collection. One features news coverage of the RIT Coast-to-Coast Run and includes reports during the run from KNBC-LA, KAKE-Witchita, WRC-Washington, and WHEC, WOKR, WROC-Rochester as well as the NBC Today Show in February 1980. Another features raw footage of the cross-country coast to coast run from WRC-Washington. The third VHS videotape features the RIT runners during the NBC Today Show from February 1980.


  • Creation: 1979

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Biographical / Historical

RIT track coach, Pete Todd led a group of 11 runners in a cross-country marathon to commemorate RIT's 150th anniversary in 1979. The team of seven students from the cross-country team and four RIT alums left Will Rogers State Park in Los Angeles on Thanksgiving morning, November 22, 1979. Their goal, in addition to bringing attention to RIT, was to break a Guinness Book of Records mark of 20 days for the 2,800 mile non-stop trek set in 1974. The men took turns running two-mile legs, one at a time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When they weren’t running, they drove Coach Todd’s Chrysler New Yorker or the Winnebago motorhome which served as the primary support vehicle that they all slept in. Runners said the run was challenging but they did their best to keep the group laughing. The coast-to-coast runners finished in 14 days, 4 hours and 8 minutes, fast enough to be included in the Guinness Book of World Records as the new record holders.

In 1968 when RIT's Henrietta, New York campus was completed, Coach Todd and his cross-country runners completed a 666 mile run from Washington, D.C. to Rochester, carrying a torch the entire trek as a way to help dedicate the campus. And in 2004, on RIT's 175th anniversary, eighteen runners trekked across the United States in a 2,730-mile continuous relay run beginning on Nov. 17 in San Diego, California, crossing thirteen states and ending in Annapolis, Maryland. Coming in at 12 days, 3 hours and 48 minutes, it beat RIT's 1979 run by more than two days.


1.75 Linear Feet (3 document boxes)




RIT 1979 Coast to Coast Run collection documents a cross-country run that took place as part of the celebration of RIT's 150th Anniversary. The collection contains new clippings, negatives, a pennant signed by each of the runners, the baton carried by runners, VHS videotapes, and a DVD that recounts the event. Eleven current and former RIT track members along with their coach, Peter Todd, started their run in Los Angeles, California with the intention of breaking the Guinness Book of World Record for a continuous cross country run.


Collection is arranged by material type.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Records were deposited at the RIT Archives over time.

Existence and Location of Originals

Original negatives of the run are located in the RIT University News 1979 Negative Collection.


  • Coast to Coast : The Story of the 2004 RIT Transcontinental RelayGV1066.P362006

Physical Description

Many of the photocopied photographs have faded greatly or of poor quality maiking them difficult to view.


Box 1 • 3 Presentation folder labeled “RIT ‘Coast to Coast’ Run 1979” o Contains photocopies of clippings regarding the “Coast to Coast Run” o 1 signed to Jack Smith from the RIT “Coast to Coast” Team

Box 2 • 2 U-matic videocassettes o 1 labeled “News coverage or RIT Coast-to-Coast Run - KNBC, LA – 11/22 – WRC, Washington – 12/6 – WROC, WORK, WHEC, Rochester – 12/10 – Today Show – NBC – 2/7/80” o 1 labeled “W. McKee/Comm. (2/7/80) – TODAY SHOW (CH-8) RIT RUNNERS,” with notation “7:10 sec.” • 1 U-matic S videocassette o Labeled “Raw footage – RIT Runners in Wash. – WRC-TV (NBC) 12/6/79 • 1 VHS tape labeled “1979 RIT ‘Coast to Coast’ - NBC Today Show - TV News Broadcasts - 1 yr. Later” • 1 videocassette labeled “RIT-Coast-to-Coast – 27 minute documentary aired in prime time by local ABC affiliate-WORK-TV, Rochester.”

Box 3 • 1 Orange felt pennant with the words “RIT Coast to Coast Run 150th Anniversary” printed on it o Also covered in signatures • 1 blue aluminum relay baton with “RIT 150th Anniversary Transcontinental Relay Nov. 22, 1979 to Dec. 10, 1979” o In green felt drawstring carrying case • 2 photographs o 1 of a student (identified on the reverse as “Mark Blesch – NTID Student”) raising the baton and running in front of a Winnebago, atop which four more students in RIT sweat suits sit o 1 of the same student shaking hands on the steps of what appears to be a state capitol building  The photo is damaged, partially obscuring the student’s face • 1 Binder containing miscellaneous photo negative contact sheets • 1 DVD

Processing Information

Finding aid created by Jody Sidlauskas in March 2015.


RIT 1979 Coast to Coast Run collection
RIT Archives
Jody Sidlauskas
6 March 2015
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
  • RIT 1979 Coast to Coast Run collection

Repository Details

Part of the RIT Archives Repository

Rochester NY 14623 USA