DAVE MCGILLIVRAY, for Runner's World
What's it like to be the race director of the Boston Marathon?
I ran my first Boston when I was 18 years old and thought nothing could ever top that. In1988, I was offered the job as Technical Director of the race. In 2001, I became the race director. Although I have loved running in the race, nothing can compare to actually directing it. To run in it, you only have to be concerned about one person--you. To direct it, you have to be concerned about 27,000 people! It's an honor and a privilege to direct the most prestigious marathon in the world.
It is, however, a team effort in every sense of the word. The average tenure of the folks on the Organizing Committee is over 20 years. Collectively, the committee represents over 1,600 years of experience at Boston. No other race in the world has that amount of expertise.
Why did you create a third wave this year?
We wanted to make the reloading of the waves at the start more efficient. By splitting the field into three waves (9,000 each), we think the start will be smoother. The intent is also to eliminate the anxiety and nervousness that a lot of runners feel in getting to the start of the race.
What are the strangest experiences you've had at Boston?
One was when I got a call on my two-way radio minutes before the start saying there was horse manure all over the road in Ashland, about three miles from the start. My response was, 'Okay, but how much?' We cleared the road before the gun fired.
Another year, I got locked in a port-o-john at the start 10 minutes before I was supposed to start the race. Someone heard me screaming and banging on the door and I got out with a few minutes to spare.
During the planning of the 100th running, when we had almost 40,000 entrants, we shipped in the longest urinal in the world from the New York City Marathon. Problem was, the Town of Hopkinton mandated that we could not drain all the "product" but had to collect it in large tanks. It was my job to figure how approximately how much urine this would be. I spent hours running in and out of the men's room in my office trying to do all the calculations. People wouldn't believe some of the things race directors have to deal with.
What is it like running the course at night and finishing last?
When I first started running the course at night on Marathon Monday 24 years ago, it was no big deal. I was 32. But most people who lived along the course had no idea who I was and just thought I was really slow. Some would even yell and tell me to pick it up. Those comments stung a bit. As I've become a more regular sight, the comments have become more encouraging, although as I get older it has become more physically challenging. But it's a personal tradition and I look forward to it each year (sort of).
What are your top five suggestions on having a positive experience at Boston?
1. Be patient. It's a long way. Don't blow it in the first few miles. 2. Know the course. It is like no other marathon course in the country. To know it is to run it well. 3. When spectators say, "Keep it up, you're looking great", don't believe them. You aren't looking great, or feeling great. But neither is anyone else in the race. If it was easy, everyone would do it. 4. No matter where or how fast you finished, don't feel sorry for yourself. You just ran a marathon! You are one of very, very few in the world who can say they've done that. 5. There is no such thing as an individual award.
Many people helped get you across the finish line. You owe it to them to remain positive and thank them for their support.