Dave McGillivray, race director for the Boston Marathon, announced this morning he will be the keynote speaker at the 2013 Runner’s World Half Marathon & Festival.
McGillivray spoke in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the location of the October 18-20 running festival, to a group of young runners from the Bethlehem chapter of the Mighty Milers, the festival’s charity benefactor.
“When I was your age I wanted to be one thing and one thing only — I wanted to be an athlete,” McGillivray said. “My handicap was that I was vertically challenged. I was always the last one picked.”
McGillivray said he took up running because he kept getting cut from sports teams and pickup games.
“I found running because nobody can cut you from running,” he said. “You don’t have to be chosen. You just go out and run.”
McGillivray has now logged more than 150,000 miles, finished 127 marathons — including 41 consecutive Boston Marathons — and has raced eight Hawaii Ironman Triathlons.
“There’s a phenomenon going on in the industry right now; the walls of intimidation have crumbled,” McGillivray said. “People now believe that they can do this.”
McGillivray has served as the technical director and then race director of the Boston Marathon since 1988 and has helped organize more than 900 mass participatory events, including the 2004 and 2008 U.S. Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials and the Falmouth Road Race. He said he used to be almost embarrassed about his career as a race director, but now he’s proud.
“I tell people now that I raise the level of self-esteem and self-confidence of tens of thousands of people in America,” he said. “That’s what this industry does.”
McGillivray’s career highlight was running across the U.S. to benefit the Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in 1978. Over his career McGillivray has helped to raise more the $100 million for charity.
McGillivray, who hasn’t publicly spoken much about the marathon bombings on April 15, briefly touched on this year’s marathon, saying the running community is becoming stronger than ever.
“The survivors have been the ones to provide us with the great inspiration,” he said.
McGillivray said he went home to his 7-year-old son a few days after the bombings and his son, who was sitting in the grandstands at the finish line on Marathon Monday, said he didn’t want him to direct the marathon anymore.
But, just a few days ago, his son changed his mind. “He said, ‘Remember when I told you I didn’t want you to director the marathon anymore?”
McGillivray said he remembered, and his son replied, “Because I want to direct it.”
McGillivray said his son needed time to recover, just as he did and others did.
“We will not be denied our running freedom,” he said. “This will only strengthen our sport and we will have a renewed sense of patriotism now.”
McGillivray said being the keynote speaker at this year’s Runner’s World Half Marathon and Festival will continue the healing process.
“We have to, in life, turn negatives into positives and that’s what we have to do in Boston,” he said. “That’s why I appreciate the opportunity to be here.”
McGillivray will give the keynote at 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 19, at ArtsQuest in Bethlehem. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at RWHalf.com.