ROCHESTER — It was a special night at the Greater Rochester Track Club Runner of the Year banquet as Mount Morris native Tim Chichester and Christa Meyer were announced as the Runner of the Year series winners. Jim Ferris and Pete Todd were also honored for their running achievements and contributions to the running community.
A new award was also established, the Pete Todd Legacy Award, a service award that will take place every three years for those that make lifelong achievemetns to the running community.
“The seeds of Rochester running carried me through Vietnam,” said Jim Ferris, who is also in the Univeristy of Oregon SPorts Hall of Fame. ” It’s a great honor to be a member of the Greater Rochester Track Club Hall of Fame.
After Ferris completed his military service in Vietnam where he was awarded the Bronze Star, he went on to run for the Legendary Oregon Track program and trained with Steve Prefontaine.
“I will always remember what Steve Prefontaine said to me once during a workout, ‘stop feeling sorry for yourself’, and that helped me through some tough times,” said Ferris.
Read below the Jim Ferris’s bio courtesy of the Greater Rochester Track Club newsletter.
Jim Ferris grew up in Webster and ran cross country for Webster High School, where early in his career he won the Monroe County cross country championship and set records by as much as 20 seconds on the way to an undefeated season in 1965. He was a member of the 4 X 220 sectional championship relay team in the spring of 1996. He lead an undefeated team to the first ever cross country and sectional title for Webster High School. He was already then representing the Rochester Track Club, winning a national junior pentathlon.
After graduation from high school during the Vietnam War, he enlisted and saw active duty with an assault helicopter company. He was injured in the Tet offensive of 1968 fracturing his heel and spraining both ankles and tearing ligaments in the legs. He received the Army’s Bronze star. On the way home after his tour, he by chance met future Olympic runner Steve Prefontaine in the airport in Frankfort, and started a friendship that would last years. In spite of his injuries he returned to his running career when he came back home.
After returning to Rochester Jim spent two years at Monroe Community College where he had a outstanding running record. The team was undefeated in 13 dual competitions in the fall of 1970. His best race was in Cobleskill in 1970 running 21:10 over 4.5 hilly miles. He ran also with The Rochester Track Club teams under Pete Todd, winning numerous awards. He was inducted into the MCC hall of fame in 2001. His continued friendship with Steve Prefontaine lead him to then go to the University of Oregon after MCC, where he ran on the track and cross country teams between 1971 and 1974. His personal records included 8:53 in the 3000 meter steeplechase, 4:09 in the mile and 28:55 for a hilly 6 mile cross country race (all in 1973). He was inducted into the University of Oregon Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012. After graduation with a degree in recreation, Jim moved to the New York City and Long Island area in 1976. He co-founded and coached numerous running groups including the central park running clinics. He won age group and Metropolitan District championships in the 15K and 25K distance. During that time ran a 2:29 Boston Marathon in 1979 (with reportedly 2 bathroom stops). He was also for many years a weekend instructor in running and triathlons at a sports center in Connecticut.
Jim’s most notable accomplishment may be his involvement with disabled veterans. Working with the Department of Veterans affairs from 1989-2006, Jim has worked with and coached disabled veterans and wheel chair athletes in a variety of track, field and athletic competition. These events have involved the disabled veteran in a variety of sports venues not previously available. Jim worked for many years with a number of veterans facilities around the New York area. He was a pioneer in developing events and opportunities for the disabled athlete, and continues in retirement to coach and be involved with these athletes. Coaching hundreds of disabled veterans to gold, silver and bronze medals in track and field may be his own gold medal accomplishment.
Read below the details of the Pete Todd Legacy Award, and his wonderful contributions to the running community, courtesy of the Greater Rochester Track Club newsletter.
The first ever Pete Todd Legacy Award was fittingly presented to the GRTC founder Pete Todd. The award is to recognize individuals who have made truly long term
contributions to the Rochester running community. To be awarded once every 3 years, it is specifically to highlight those who have given of themselves, above and beyond the norm, to support our sport over many years. It is anticipated that future recipients may be contributing to the sport of running in a variety of ways, as competitors, as coaches and importantly as those behind the scenes who ensure that running and competition goes forward and that new runners are continually brought into the sport and the club. This is seen as a way to give appropriate recognition to those who have given much to the Rochester running community, even to those who may not have always been recognized for their contributions. It was recommended to establish this award in honor of Pete Todd, one of the founders of GRTC in 1958 and one of its first Hall of Fame members. To be titled the “Pete Todd Legacy Award,” it is to recognize those who embody the spirit of volunteerism that Pete Todd brought to running in Rochester. Given his own long term contributions to our sport and our club, the Hall of Fame committee felt it was most appropriate to make Pete Todd himself the first recipient. Join us then in honoring Pete Todd at our Banquet on January 26th as the first recipient of this new honor.
Pete Todd founded the Rochester Track Club in 1958. From that date until he stepped down almost 20 years later, he built the club into a well-know road running and track power. A one man show for the more than 10 years, prior to joining RIT, Pete’s legacy of running and club organization created dozens of great runners, several making Olympic teams and numerous others qualifying for this. He fostered in innumerable others a lifelong love of running. His traditions and methods are practiced today in Rochester with running programming that exists in only a handful of cities in this country. Starting in the early 60’s Pete established road running events in the Rochester area. He organized the first Rochester Marathon in 1964 and numerous summer road races in Genesee Valley Park. His efforts earned the Rochester Track Club recognition as one of the best road racing teams in the country. The Rochester Track club in that era won several national titles and endless Niagara District titles. Pete established summer track meets under the AAU program of Olympic development meets. These early meets were held at Brighton High School and later moved to RIT’s all-weather track. A national one-hour championship run was held in 1965 at one of his summer meets. Back then the AAU had a postal running program and Pete provided the opportunity for races locally. Pete’s program grew and a fantastic summer meet schedule was established at the RIT campus.
Runners from all over New York State and some from other states would participate in the races. Besides the normal sprints, middle distance and field events, Pete would put on very unique and challenging events that drew some of the most talented runners from around New York State and beyond. These events became legendary with the teams and competition, and the word spread. Each year the intense competition got better. Pete established 2-man 10 mile relays of 20 X 440 or the 5 X 1 mile relays, the trackathon (10 track running events in one day), the running Pentathlon (5 different running events from 15 K to 440), the 1-hour run championship, decathlons, shuttle hurdle relay races, a throwing competition using the decathlon scoring tables, AAU postal races to establish times, and a rare 20-mile track race to establish age group records. The list of unique running opportunities inspired participation at all levels.