THE SUN CHRONICLE
Tedious and Boring. Two words that Dave McGillivray, founder, CEO and president of DMSE Sports, conceded might cross people’s minds when they think about a 116.5-lap marathon completed entirely within a ballpark.
“But once we got started, it was anything but that,” McGillivray said of last year’s Fenway Park Marathon.
Most people would never even dream of running such a race, but McGillivray was crazy enough to dream it, direct it and do it with the help of his team at DMSE Sports and the Red Sox Foundation. In doing so, McGillivray made history on Sept. 15, for directing and competing in the first marathon run entirely inside a MLB stadium.
Now, he’s taking the venture to a new sports venue — Gillette Stadium.
“If you had to start somewhere, that’s probably the best one to start,” McGillivray said of hosting the marathon at Fenway Park.
The 63-year-old accomplished distance runner had run and directed many races ending in sports stadiums prior to the Fenway Park Marathon. But McGillivray’s ultimate dream took many years of proposals to the Red Sox Foundation before it finally came to fruition last summer.
At 5 p.m. on Aug. 24, runners will be able to compete at Fenway for the race’s second year, but McGillivray decided he would not stop there. DMSE Sports will make history, yet again, by organizing the first marathon run completely inside an NFL stadium hosted at Gillette Stadium.
And yes, McGillivray will not only direct the event, but also be competing in the race at the same time, just like he did at Fenway.
Jamie Berman, 27, was one of the runners to complete in last year’s Fenway Park Marathon.
Berman has lived in Boston for the last five years and grew up in Lynnfield. Prior to last year’s race, Berman’s friend jokingly sent her an article about the marathon, saying that people must be crazy to consider doing it, and instead of agreeing with her friend, Berman realized she might just be one of the “crazy” ones.
Berman’s family has had season tickets since the mid-1980s, and her huge Red-Sox loyalty was half the allure for Berman.
Although the race at Fenway Park was not Berman’s first marathon, she said it was unlike any other. Even trying to compare Fenway to the Boston Marathon was, for her, nearly impossible.
“It really is apples and oranges,” Berman said. “They’re difficult for very different reasons.”
Berman appreciated the 116.5 laps because it allowed for constant support during her race. As her family cheered from the stands, they also made encouraging posters as the race progressed with the easel and extra signs they brought with them — something that is not possible at a typical course like Boston.
“At Fenway, you get to see your family and friends 117 times,” Berman said.
Berman added that running so many laps created such a different kind of marathon because you grew close with your competitors by the end. She remembered “bonking” (the runner’s term for reaching an extreme level of exhaustion) during the latter half of the race, but managed to finish with the help of a new friend, Mark Fallon.
“So I started bonking and the last 10 miles of the race were very terrible for me,” Berman said. “He ran with me for the last 5 laps to make sure I didn’t stop.”
McGillivray also attested to the community formed during the race and said the runners cheered each other on throughout the marathon.
“We saw everyone in the race the whole time,” McGillivray said. “By the time you were done with the race, everyone knew everyone.”
Rachel Glazer, a 45-year-old mother from Needham, was another competitor at Fenway last year. The experienced marathoner placed second out of all the women in the event.
“I run a bunch,” Glazer said. “Fenway was my 15th marathon.”
Glazer, like Berman, also has a big place in her heart for the Red Sox. It was this love and passion for running that pushed her toward that event.
“I’m a huge Red Sox fan, I love Fenway Park, I love running,” Glazer said.
Both Glazer and Berman also spoke about their motivation in running for a good cause.
For the Fenway Park Marathon, each runner had to raise at least $5,000 for the Red Sox Foundation. The charity’s mission is to make a difference in the lives of children, families, veterans and communities in need by improving their health, education and recreational opportunities. The same fundraising efforts will be expected of runners in this year’s race.
“When all was said and done, we raised over $300,000 for the foundation,” McGillivray said.
The Gillette Stadium Marathon, which will take place on Sept. 28 at 5 p.m., will also require a $5,000 fundraising effort, but, in this case, the money will go to the New England Patriots Foundation which will donate the money to homeless shelters around New England.
Berman enjoyed her marathon experience at Fenway, but said she was unfortunately unable to compete again this year.
“If I were not having surgery for something unrelated, I would absolutely do it again,” Berman said.
Glazer also loved the event but said she would not plan on coming back for more. Unless, of course, it was her second favorite team hosting a similar, history-making event. She’s been running in circles around reservoirs to train for the 119 laps at Gillette.
“I always said if there was a marathon at Gillette I would do it,” Glazer said.
When asked about why he thinks people are willing and eager to take on the seemingly daunting number of laps, McGillivary said this type of marathon offered runners something they’ve never done before.
“People are looking for something different,” McGillivray said. “Something unique.”
He also said that people, especially runners, want new ways to push themselves.
“It’s human nature to be now looking for the next challenge, the next thing to conquer,” McGillivray said.
With this in mind, McGillivray’s goal is to eventually expand events like these to other parts of the country. He already has another marathon planned for November at Minute Maid Park, home ballfield of the Houston Astros in Texas.
“We’re going to, slowly but progressively, grow it into a national series,” McGillivray said.
There is still time to sign up for the races at Gillette and Fenway if you are interested, but note that Fenway is on a first-come, first-serve basis, and Gillette requires acceptance after an application process. Both races will also require $5,000 in fundraising.