ERIK LITT, WINNER OF THE RACEWALK DIVISION
AT THE E. MURRAY TODD HALF-MARATHON,
DISPLAYS HIS PLAQUE.
WAYNE BAKER PHOTO
Bostwick and Meyer Triumph
at E. Murray Todd Half-Marathon

BY WAYNE BAKER

LINCROFT, NJ--A chilly rain greeted runners on Sunday, March 3, 2003 for the E. Murray Todd Half-Marathon. While the course is fairly flat, some meaningful hills at about 6 and 10 miles, and the early date test the runners.

As we walk the few hundred yards to the starting line, we see water puddling on the road. We all grouse about the conditions. The racers line up; we all have different goals and aspirations for today. Since this is the first big race of the season for much of central Jersey, it is also a homecoming. Most of us haven't seen each other through the winter, at least in race situations. A few have dreams of winning, either overall, or age groups. A lot of us are just trying to measure the damage winter has done to our conditioning. Despite the rain, the turnout is good. It feels like most of a thousand runners are at the line. A few words of caution are given by race director Bob Ward, then he send us off.

The first thing most of us do, is push the start button on our stopwatch. We jostle a little, then begin to string out. As we turn out of the Brookdale Community College campus, onto Newman Springs Road, Phil Hinck is shouting to us to turn wide, or we'll be running through a big puddle. It's the first of many times we'll see him on the course, both in support roles and publicizing one of the Jersey Shore Running Club's upcoming races.

After the race, I asked winner Rich Bostwick to pose with his trophy. He asked me if I'd take the picture along with his pacer. Rich, age 35, is a resident of Williams, NJ, and coaches at Washington Township (Gloucester County) High School. He's currently training for a half-Ironman triathlon. Rich's pacer was someone he coaches, Bryan Beitz. Bryan, age 17, is a senior, and took second place, just seven seconds behind his coach. He plans to attend LaSalle in the fall. The coach and his pupil often train together. They started out running about 5:30s, then slowed a little. Bryan was pushing the pace until about 10, then Rich opened it up and Bryan went with him to secure the 1-2 finish.

Dorian Meyer, age 43, of Rumson, NJ, won the women's division. She was essentially unchallenged. I asked her if she was happy with her performance. She said that given the conditions, she was. The second woman, 34-year-old Laurie Gordon, finished about nine minutes back. This was her first long race as she returns from a heel injury. She said she felt good until about the 10-mile point, and then had some trouble. Since Laurie, currently of Newton, NJ, grew up in the area, she and husband, Guy, spent last night visiting her folks.

Erik Litt, of Philadelphia, PA, won the racewalk. Erik had a tough day, cutting a toe between miles 2 and 3, and having it really give him trouble during the last few miles. There were no women walkers this year.

Who was E. Murray Todd?

After about 15 years of off and on running of this race, the desire to find out who Todd was had become unbearable, so I asked the question when I registered at the Monmouth County Park System office at Thompson Park. They didn't know, but tried to reach race director, Bob Ward, at his Dorbrook Park office. When I spoke with him later that afternoon, Ward told me that the race was named in Todd's honor in recognition of a donation and he confirmed that Todd was a runner and was a long-time Holmdel resident.

As I continued my quest for information, I contacted local running sage Elliott Denman. Elliott was able to shed some additional light on Murray Todd. As I researched further, most of Elliott's information proved largely accurate, and provided several points I was able to use to look for additional information.

E. Murray Todd was born in Bridgeport, CT. In 1916, he graduated the Pingry School, then located in Elizabeth, NJ, and while there won the prestigious Eastern States Interscholastic and Prep School Championship Mile as a senior. Todd served with the Army's 78th (Lightning) Division in France during World War I. He owned an accounting firm in New York City until the mid-1950s, then worked as a financial advisor and trustee to many groups and organizations including the Millbank Foundation, Monmouth College (now Monmouth University), The Pingry School, Monmouth Medical Center, and the Monmouth Council of Boy Scouts. He had lived in Holmdel, NJ, from 1940 to 1981, then split his time between Florida and Monmouth County, NJ, until his death in May 1986.

His philanthropy and fund-raising resulted in many honors including tracks at both Pingry and Monmouth University being named in his honor, also a wing at Monmouth Medical Center, and of course the half-marathon. Part of Todd's estate was used to fund a chair (the academic kind, not one you sit on) at Pingry. Todd's vision, foresight, and guidance seems to have affected both Monmouth County and New Jersey in significant ways that impact the lives of area residents today.

I wish to publicly thank Bob Ward, Elliott Denman, and the staffs at Monmouth University and The Pingry School for their assistance. Finally, the "E" in Todd's name stands for Erwin.