Anyone who doubted Dave McGillivray’s love for running should have been standing at the traffic signal adjacent to Wellesley Town Hall some 35 years ago, watching the Medford native compete in the now-defunct Silver Lake (Half) Marathon, a race which traversed much of the same layout as the Boston Marathon.
It was at that juncture that an automobile driver turned into the runners and clipped McGillivray, sending the former Merrimack College athlete hurtling over the hood and knocking him to the pavement. Undaunted, McGillvray climbed to his feet, offered a few choice words, and continued running.
These days, McGillivray has proven a tad more adept at eluding all sorts of roadway hazards, as the 57-year-old celebrates 25 years with the Boston Marathon, including 13 as technical director and the last 12 as race director.
“Well, Guy ( Morse) was responsible for hiring me. I came in right after the infamous wheelchair accident, when (1986 champion) Rob de Castella tripped on the rope. I think the BAA said, ‘We need to get more eyes and ears’ on this event,” said McGillivray, who had just begun his own business, DMSE, Inc. “When I started, I think there was a little over 6,000 runners (5,595) in the race. And now, as we know, we’re a little north of 25,000.
“The interesting thing about that is it’s the same course and same amount of real estate. So, that has been the ultimate challenge — where do you put all these people? So collectively, as a team, we had to think outside the box and figure out ways to accommodate more people.”
During his tenure, the marathon has witnessed the formation of the Athletes Village, the three-wave starting area, and a 10 a.m. race start among other innovations. McGillivray cites three particular races as being major highlights of his experience.
“There have been three. The first year, I was a neophyte and didn’t know what to expect. I suppose innocence is bliss. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. So, it was one of those ‘do the best you can’ and keep your fingers crossed,” said McGillivray, who installed the successful control start in the wheelchair program that year.
“Then, the 100th (race in 1996). Again, having to deal with the magnitude of the event. That took a couple of years in the works. The biggest challenge with that was we didn’t know until January that the field had swelled to that number (38,708). Certainly, that was a logistical challenge. But the bigger one, bar none, was 2007 when that nor’easter came through. It upped the ante on planning.”
Heart of the matter
Race organizers yesterday announced the BAA, in partnership with the American Red Cross and American Heart Association, will offer cardiopulomonary resuscitation (CPR) demonstration classes on Saturday and Sunday at the 35th annual John Hancock Sports & Fitness Expo at the Seaport World Trade Center. The schedule calls for four separate 20-minute classes each day.
“I think we can put our medical support unit up with any marathon in the world,” said Chris Troyanos, the director of sports medicine at Newton’s Lasell College, who has been associated with the marathon for the past 35 years.
Dr. Aaron Baggish, associate director of cardiovascular performance at Mass. General Hospital, said that recent study data that appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine indicated, of the 59 runners whose hearts stopped during a major marathon or half marathon over the past decade, eight who survived had received CPR from a bystander.
“I really was convinced that this is going to be a great addition to the Boston Marathon event,” said Baggish.
Making it tougher
The BAA also announced new tougher qualifying standards for 2013. Most age group qualifying saw times tighten by an average of 5 minutes. Also, the entry fee for the 2013 event will be $150 for U.S. runners and $200 for international residents.
“People do care about the qualifying standards,” said Boston Marathon executive director Tom Grilk. “They want to run well. The early indications are that people are taking this as a challenge.” .
Ethiopian standout Tadese Tola, who clocked a fast 2:05:10 at Dubai in January, has dropped out of the field. No reason was given.