RIT’s Transcontinental Relay Run Documented in New Book




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The Rochester Institute of Technology cross country team had a mission: Run a 2,730-mile continuous relay from the Pacific Ocean to the coast of the Atlantic in less than two weeks. Mission accomplished in 12 days, 3 hours and 48 minutes.

The team’s amazing feat is now documented in a new book: Coast to Coast: The Story of the 2004 Transcontinental Relay Run. Ryan Pancoast, a 2005 RIT graduate (illustration) is the book’s author. His 17 teammates also contributed passages to the book. The book details how the athletes survived on energy bars, went days without showers, avoided encounters with the police and made quite a few wrong turns, all the while keeping the baton moving and learning to band together as a team through the darkest hours of the grueling run.

“The team knew it was essential to put the events of the run onto paper before our memories faded,” said Pancoast, of Stratford, Conn. “I was elected to head the project, but soon after I began compiling the runners’ stories, collecting photographs and writing a day-by-day account, I realized that creating a book like this was, at times, more daunting than running across the country. However, with input from the entire team, I think Coast to Coast has become an entertaining and inspiring read for runners and non-runners alike.”

The book is available for $14.94 (soft cover) or $25.42 (hardcover) at the following:

Jim Castor, assistant sports editor of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, and Marianne Buehler, head of publishing and scholarship support services at RIT’s Wallace Library, served as editors for the Coast to Coast project.

The continuous relay began in November 2004 on a beach near San Diego. Each runner—a member of the RIT men’s and women’s cross country team—completed a two-mile interval, then rested for approximately 3.5 hours before joining the relay again. The cross-country trek continued through 13 states and all four time zones.

The run helped commemorate RIT’s 175th anniversary, while also paid tribute to a 1979 coast-to-coast run that celebrated the university’s 150th anniversary. The 1979 team completed its run in 14 days, 4 hours, and 8 minutes, which at the time was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Pancoast and members of the team will be available for a book signing at 3 p.m. May 16 in the Wallace Library on the RIT campus. The Coast to Coast runners will also be joined by RIT President Albert J. Simone.

“I am very excited for Ryan that he is publishing his first book,” said Simone. “The Coast to Coast run was an extension of the RIT experience for these runners. RIT students pride themselves on stretching beyond the classroom. For 12 incredible days, the great expanse of the United States served as the team’s classroom. The run and now the book are both tremendous accomplishments.”

RIT enrolls more than 15,200 full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students in 340 career-oriented programs. The student population hails from across the U.S, and includes more than 1,300 international students representing more than 90 countries. RIT’s cooperative education program is the fourth oldest and one of the largest in the world, giving students hands-on, paid work experiences in key industries.