The Fred d’Elia Ridgewood Run was created by Manfred (Fred) d’Elia and his wife, world-class runner Toshiko d’Elia, in 1976. Tired of driving his wife into Manhattan for competition with the New York Road Runners, Fred decided to create his own race to attract serious runners to their hometown. The inaugural Ridgewood Run took off with runners sporting hand-made bib numbers with Fred acting as race director, course certifier and timer. “With no money to put on a race, we all had our tasks,” recalls Toshiko d’Elia. “I hand-delivered all the race applications around town to save on stamps and our daughter Erica, was handed a black dri-marker to make race numbers.”
Since its inception, this homespun race which is always held on Memorial Day has grown to 3,500 nation-wide participants who compete for prize money in the 10K, 5K, masters mile, and elite mile events. There is also a Fun Run/Health Walk for children and walkers. The Henry H. Kessler Foundation Wheelchair 10K was introduced in 2001 with an outstanding field of 23 athletes and in 2002, 40 athletes attended, including world record holder in the 10K, Krige Schabort from South Africa, who set a new course record of 19:56 in 2006.
The evolution from hand-made bib numbers includes time clocks at every mile, ChampionChip scoring and online registration. Despite these state-of-the art devices, the event remains runner-friendly. It is truly a community-driven event. The North Jersey Masters Track and Field Club, started by the d’Elias’ in 1976, are the organizers of the race.
Park Ave BMW of Maywood has been the major sponsor since 1996. The Ridgewood YMCA is the perfect sponsor for the Fun Run/Health Walk, and the Valley Hospital is the proud sponsor of the Elite and Masters Mile races. All sponsors have a very strong commitment to the community.
Proceeds of the Ridgewood Run provide donations to support local charities and organizations. Main beneficiaries in past races were the Special Olympics New Jersey, the Ridgewood YMCA, the Kessler Foundation, the Village of Ridgewood Parks and Recreation, Social Service Association, College Club. Assistance is also give to other local charitable organizations and scholarship recipients.