REMEMBERING ONE OF THE BOSTON MARATHON'S GREATEST SUPPORTERS

Boston's longest-serving mayor always looked out for the little guy.

DAVE MCGILLIVRAY, for Runner's World

Yesterday, the city of Boston and runners from around the world lost one of our staunchest supporters in Mayor Thomas M. Menino. He served the city for 20 years—Boston’s longest serving Mayor. 

I’ve always felt that being a mayor should be more than just about politics. It should be about being there for the people, especially those in need. Mayor Menino was best known as the “people’s mayor” by always visiting the Boston neighborhoods and always advocating and supporting the citizens.

The Mayor loved the Boston Marathon and always said it symbolized the beginning of spring here—displaying everything good about the city in the process. He just loved sitting in the bleachers watching the finish and then crowning the winners of the race every year.

He called me one day at my home. I picked up the phone and heard, “Hi Dave, Tom Menino.” I almost fell on the floor. The Mayor was actually calling me at my home!

He just wanted to talk about the Boston Marathon and events in the city. He was an avid supporter of races and all the runners who participated. Many times he was the “official starter” of many of our events.

There are so many wonderful stories about Mayor Menino. I remember once after the Swim Across America, a 20-mile relay swim in the Boston Harbor to benefit the Jimmy Fund, the Mayor was addressing the athletes and said, “Congratulations to all you runners!” 

Yikes. I whispered in his ear, “Swimmers, Mr. Mayor, not runners.”  Then we both had the greatest belly laugh. It was classic. He could always laugh at himself and his own little mistakes. You have to admire that in a person.

Whenever we were together, he would always talk to me about my health and fitness and injuries and then we’d talk about his. He once injured his knee stepping down from one of the Boston Duck Tour boats during the Red Sox World Series parades and asked my opinion on how to treat it.

He also wrote a very nice endorsement for my book, The Last Pick.  He wrote:

“Dave has shown that he knows what it takes to motivate and inspire people to accomplish goals beyond their expectations. I am proud to say he has inspired the people of Boston and especially our children to reach farther and achieve more.” 

In reading this again now, I can certainly say the exact same thing about Mayor Menino.

But, what impressed me the most about Mayor Menino was how he supported so many charities, worthwhile causes, and people in need. I swear he had a “double” as it seemed impossible that one person could be in so many places at once doing so many good things for so many people.  

This was never more evident than after the 2013 Boston Marathon when he helped establish the Boston One Fund to help those who were profoundly impacted by the bombings. He symbolized “Boston Strong” and was our pillar of strength throughout this challenging time.

Mayor Menino was simply a down-to-earth, regular man who always supported the little guy—like me. You could not ask for anymore.  He will be missed, but certainly never forgotten.