TIMES HERALD RECORD
Imagine running a marathon inside Fenway Park? That’s 114 laps around the warning track. On Sept. 15, the Fenway Park Marathon will be the first marathon in the country to be staged completely inside a major league ballpark.
The race is limited to 50 people trying to raise $250,000 for the Red Sox Foundation and charities the team supports. And two longtime friends will be in the field: Dave McGillivray and Ray Charron.
Most runners love to count. So 114 laps is not so bad when you think of it. You run a lap, under the Green Monster no less, and the countdown begins. Lap counting is an exhilarating experience, and it’s being done in front of a ton of spectators. Marathon running doesn’t get any better. The race is certified and represents a Boston Marathon qualifier, the famed race that is directed by McGillivray.
Of course McGillivray helped put together the event. In 1978, McGillivray finished his 3,452-mile run across America for the Jimmy Fund at Fenway during a Red Sox game. In 1980, he finished his East Coast Run for the Jimmy Fund with legendary wheelchair marathoner Bob Hall from Winter Haven, Fla., Boston’s spring training site, to Boston. To date, McGillivray has run 146 marathons with a personal best of 2 hours, 29 minutes.
Charron, 71, lives in Kapaa, Hawaii. He has run 111 marathons with a best of 2:37:18. A diehard Sox fan and also a race organizer, Charron leaped aboard when he heard of the chance to combine his two favorite passions.
He was born in Massachusetts in 1946, the year the Red Sox won their first American League championship since 1918. It was Ted Williams’ first year back from WWII where he was a Marine fighter pilot. Charron’s dad was a marine during the war and also from Massachusetts, and his father was once in a plane with Williams. Ray visited Fenway for the first time with his dad in the early 1950s.
Charron and his wife of 51 years, Donna, met while in school in Hawaii. Both their parents were stationed at Pearl Harbor. Ray, an avid surfer, developed Raynaud’s Disease. The doctor told him that he would lose his fingers and toes if he continued to winter surf. Ray moved to Long Island and a friend suggested he watch the 1977 New York City Marathon. He took his family to the 16-mile point at the 59th Street Bridge and 1st Avenue.
“I was hooked as soon as the leaders ran by,″ he said. “The next day, I became a runner.″
In the ensuing 40 years, Ray has run across the country twice as part of a relay, as well as competing in the NYC Marathon seven times (all in less than three hours), the Honolulu Marathon 25 times (finishing 45th overall in 2:39 in 1985) and running at least one marathon every year.
“The Fenway Park Marathon was just made for me,″ Charron said. “This will be the culmination of my long career. I’ll be able to touch the Green Monster, sit in the dugouts, cross home plate, stand on the pitcher’s mound, and see the stands from the field like all the great Sox players have: Ted, Yaz, Jim Rice and 114 laps in heaven. All those times I was in Fenway and never once got to touch the field. I’m looking at this as more of a happening than a race.”