Toshiko D'Elia (+2014) (Read 62 times)

    The founding mother of our team, Toshiko D'Elia, passed away this week at the age of 84. Below is a press release. Here is a link to news story about her, broadcast on ABC News (local): Click


    I ran to live happily. It gave me strength. I was able to teach better, I was able to be a better wife and a better mother. . . . Running has always served me as a support and therapy for a happier life. -Toshiko D'Elia, then age 77, Japan Times May 23, 2007


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    USATF-NJ mourns the loss of Toshiko D'Elia

    The New Jersey Association is deeply saddened at the passing of Toshiko D'Elia, a pioneer and legend in American Masters Long Distance Running. Born in Kyoto Japan in 1930, Toshiko was a woman of independence and determination. She had a passion for educating the deaf. After graduating from Tsuda College in Tokyo, she could find no special education training in Japan and came to the United States in 1951 as a Fulbright scholar.

    Toshiko came to running in her late 40's. She and her husband Manfred D'Elia were avid mountain climbers. On a climb of Mount Rainier she suffered from altitude sickness and failed to finish the climb. After that, she began to run a mile a day with her daughter, Erica, who in 1974 was part of the first cross country team at Ridgewood High School.

    Toshiko was part of the first running boom of the 1970s. Her first marathon, at the age of 46 was in 1976. The Jersey Shore marathon was an 'accidental marathon'. She only trained 13.1 miles to see if she could run the distance. After the halfway point, she continued running, finishing in 3:25:00. That race qualified her for the Boston Marathon three months later. She was the second recorded masters female runner at Boston, finishing 3:16:56 in temperatures that approached 100 degrees. Seven months later she ran the New York City Marathon, placing third woman overall in 3:08:15. 

    Toshiko D'Elia and her late husband Fred were founding members of the North Jersey Masters Track and Field Club in 1976. The Fred'Delia Ridgewood Run, which is a Memorial Day Tradition in the New Jersey Running Community, was started in part to attract serious running competition to their hometown. As a pioneer in masters running, Toshiko was the foundation that has made New Jersey into one of the most competitive master's long distance racing communities in the nation.

    Toshiko D'Elia was the first woman in the world over age 50 to break the 3:00 barrier for the marathon (2:57 at the World Masters Championships in Glasgow which she won), and the first woman age 65 and over to break the 7:00 barrier for the mile. She has set many American and world records on the track and the roads. She is a member of the 1996 inaugural class of the Masters division of the USATF National Track and Field Hall of Fame.

    "If you have the fire, run..." -John Climacus

      What an inspiring lady.

      Runners run.

        What an inspiring lady.


        +1 Thanks for sharing this.

          "If you have the fire, run..." -John Climacus