Riverdale, NY – Manhattan Athletics mourns the death of Jasper Hall of Famer Ed Bowes ’64, the legendary high school track and field coach and founder of the Manhattan College Cross Country Invitational, who passed away on July 31 at the age of 78.
“Ed Bowes was an iconic figure in New York City track and field, and a proud Manhattan College Jasper,” said Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Marianne Reilly. “I was blessed to have worked with him on the largest high school cross country meet in America, which he created and built over many decades. He will be sorely missed by Bishop Loughlin High School and his track family.”
Following his time as a member of Manhattan’s cross country and track and field teams, Bowes began his coaching career at Brooklyn’s Bishop Loughlin. Over nearly 40 years, his teams captured three Championship of America titles at the Penn Relays, as well as 12 Catholic League girls’ championships and four boys’ titles. Bowes also spent 31 years as director of the Bishop Loughlin Games, an annual indoor track meet that generated scholarship funding for students in need, and he was inducted into six different halls of fame over his tenure.
Bowes’ own competitive running career included a 1960 IC4A Cross Country Championship for the Jaspers. He also gained notoriety in the distance community at the 1972 New York City Marathon, emerging as the race leader after 23 miles before dehydration ended his bid for the title. Several months later, Bowes began his mentorship of Matt Centrowitz, now director of Manhattan’s cross country and track and field programs, helping the then-high school phenom to a 4:02.7 mile time at the AAU Junior Nationals, a standard that remains the New York State high school record today.
“Ed was a dedicated student-athlete who became a fiery young coach,” said Centrowitz, who also ran against Bowes’ teams as a high school student at Power Memorial. “He would inspire other coaches to be more progressive, and created a friendly intensity. He pumped energy in the CHSAA, not just into Bishop Loughlin, but into all schools, by the way he inspired us to compete against each other. I was very sad to hear of Ed’s passing, but I am looking on the bright side today and thinking of all the people that loved him, and all the people he inspired.”
Bowes’ enduring legacy is seen best in the Manhattan College Cross Country Invitational, the nation’s largest, one-day high school meet. As president of Manhattan’s Spiked Shoe Club, Bowes resurrected the scholastic competition in 1973, with the goal of creating a local meet for high school runners of all ages and abilities to compete, named after his alma mater. The event now attracts 10,000 runners from across North America to Van Cortlandt Park each fall and offers 40 intermediate to varsity level races throughout the day of competition.
Bowes last visited the College in 2019 for the running of the 47th annual invitational. Shortly before the Girls Eastern State Championship, which is named in his honor, Bowes was presented a replica of a new finish line plaque that declared the meet’s final stretch “Ed Bowes Way.”
“I love cross country,” he said on the day. “And to see so many kids here…it makes me feel good…I never thought [the meet] would grow like this.”