Todd Memorial Criterium
The race is named in honour of Douglas Todd, a former president of the Dunedin Amateur Cycling Club and a key patron of Dunedin cycling in the late 1950s. Mr Todd and wife Margaret were very active in supporting Dunedin novice riders. Indeed, the Todd family home became an unofficial HQ for young Dunedin riders – including Douglas’s and Margaret’s sons Alan and Doug, and the likes of Bruce Finnie, Bill Partel, Merv Dryden and Alan Larkins.
Mr and Mrs Todd could also be found at the Caledonian Ground most weekends in the track season, where Margaret was active in the ladies committee, officiating races, organising the afternoon tea; keeping the gears rolling. In recognition of their service, both Douglas and Margaret were made life members of the Dunedin Amateur Cycling Club.
The Todd Memorial Criterium has its origins in two now defunct races – the Todd Memorial 30km Novice Road Race, and the Octagon Criterium; both of which enjoyed the support of the Todd family.
The Todd Memorial 30km Novice Road Race was established by Doug Todd (Jnr) in the mid-1980s, when his sons Brett and Glen were up-and-coming novice riders. At that time, local novice events were typically 16 kilometres in length. Upon learning that an upcoming national novice race would be 30 kilometres long, Doug Jnr organised a 30-kilometre local version to help his sons and their Dunedin peers prepare for the national stage. The race and its trophy were named after Douglas (Snr), who had recently passed away.
In those days criterium racing featured strongly in the summer cycling calendar, and Doug Todd (Jnr), along with an enthusiastic organising committee, was also instrumental in promoting the premiere event, the Octagon Criterium.
Supported by the Dunedin City Council, who closed off streets for the event, the Octagon Criterium followed a course down Princes Street through the Octagon onto George Street, before cornering into Moray Place, up past First Church and back onto Princes Street again.
By the late 1980s the Octagon Criterium had grown in stature to become a televised event that drew some of New Zealand’s top racers. Its emergence on the national scene was partly due to the race being held on the same weekend as the NZ Cup on Wheels. Riders would descend upon Dunedin to race the NZ Cup on Wheels on the Saturday, then race the Octagon Criterium on the Sunday. Over the years some New Zealand greats contested the race, including Brian Fowler, Jack Swart, Colin Ryan, Murray Steele, Craig Adair and the Miller brothers, Graeme and Alan.
The Octagon Criterium was eventually moved from the central city circuit to Willis and Cresswell Streets in the wharf area, where it has remained an established fixture in the racing calendar. The renaming of the wharf criterium as the Todd Memorial Criterium came about ten years ago, following the rediscovery of the Todd Memorial trophy – which had previously been awarded to the winner of the Todd Memorial 30km Novice Road Race.
When approached by the club and asked which event he thought the rediscovered trophy might be raced for, Glen Todd (son of Doug Jnr; grandson of Douglas) thought it would be a good idea to uphold family tradition and support a criterium race, of which there were very few on the calendar at the time. The Todd Memorial Criterium was thus born.
On Saturday 12 November a field of local and visiting riders will once again scorch the tarmac along Willis and Cresswell Streets in the Todd Memorial Criterium.
Cycling Otago invites you to come along to ride or watch! Please help us celebrate the Todd family’s long, proud involvement with Otago cycling.
Otago Junior rides Thirza Smith and Mila Rollo in the 2015 edition of the Todd Memorial Criterium
(Image from the Otago Daily Times)
Find the circuit details on Strava here