He has run 144 marathons, logged 150,000 miles in running shoes, and has competed in nine Ironman triathlons. At 62, Dave McGillivray also has been race director of the Boston Marathon for 29 years and is owner of DMSE Sports Inc., a firm that manages sports events and charity races across the country, from the Falmouth Road Race to the Walk for Hunger.
1. A Medford native, McGillivray dreamed of playing second base for the Red Sox and was cut from high school basketball because of his height, 5 feet 4 inches. If he’d been 5 inches taller, he said the coach told him, he would have made the team.
“I put a sign over my bed that night that said, ‘Please, God, make me grow,’ ” McGillivray recalled. Then he got mad. “It’s my life, my game, my rules. The worst injustice you could ever do is underestimate your own abilities. It made me grow internally.”
2. He tried to run his first Boston Marathon at age 17 but dropped out after the hills in Newton. He finished — barely — the next year and has now run the course 44 consecutive years. As race director, he now does it at night, after everyone else is done.
“I’ve been the last finisher of my own race for the last 29 years.”
3. His second favorite race (after Boston) is New York.
“The one that rivals Boston is NY City. I love to run through the five boroughs. I’ve run that one about a dozen times.”
4. In the fall of 2013, just months after the Marathon bombings, McGillivray was having trouble breathing and found out he had heart disease. Instead of surgery, he would give up beer, soda, and red meat, dropping 27 pounds.
“I had run across the country. I thought I was Superman. I went on a tear. I wanted to save myself. I changed my diet, changed my sleep habits. . . . I learned from 60 years of living, just because you’re fit doesn’t mean you’re healthy. That’s a lesson that a lot of people need to learn.”
5. He has raised money for charities while biking, swimming, or running for 24 straight hours. Next up? He wants to return to Hawaii for a 10th triathlon. And he has signed up for a World Marathon Challenge in January 2018 — seven marathons, on seven continents, in seven days.
“There are some things I’ve done that are off the charts crazy. But combining it with charity makes it palatable.”