A hearty CHEERS to North Andover’s Dave McGillivray, who is scheduled to run the streets of Miami today in his seventh marathon on the seventh continent in as many days. That’s a total of 183 miles and some 700 yards — even more than the Athenian messenger Pheidippides is said to have run in his various treks during the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC, the effort that inspired the modern, 26.2-mile race.
McGillivray is competing in the World Marathon Challenge, a 4-year-old event that reflects both the growing popularity of destination running and the desire of endurance athletes to tackle ever-larger conquests. The latter has driven McGillivray, who is known internationally as race director of the Boston Marathon and for his own epic events — running across the United States and the full distance of the East Coast among them.
“It’s important for me to set a goal, achieve it — getting it done and feeling good about myself.” McGillivray, 62, told executive sports editor Bill Burt before setting out on his latest endurance endeavor.
McGillivray’s entry into the marathon of marathons is not the Merrimack Valley’s first brush with this international event. Becca Pizzi, a 37-year-old Belmont marathoner who won the women’s challenge in 2016, has made several appearances at local races. She's running the challenge again this year and is on pace to be the only person to complete it twice.
Speaking of pace, McGillivray was doing reasonably well at last check-in, despite facing a range of conditions in his travels. Of the first five marathons, his best finish was in 10th place in a field of about three-dozen men in Dubai.
As if the distance alone isn’t impressive, one can also marvel at McGillivray’s determination to help someone else in his running. He is competing for a favorite charity, the Martin Richard Foundation, created in memory of the 8-year-old victim of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.
His success, as an athlete and philanthropist, is an inspiration to all back home.