WICKED LOCAL NORTH ANDOVER | WICKED LOCAL MEDFORD
Antarctica is very lovely this time of year.
Well, compared to Antarctica the rest of the year. After all, it’s summer there.
A week ago, North Andover resident and Boston Marathon Race Director Dave McGillivray, 63, was on the least populous continent doing the least Antarctica thing one can think of – running a marathon.
There is no annual Antarctica Marathon like the Hopkinton-to-Boston classic every April. A group of 50 international runners, including four Massachusetts residents, ran the World Marathon Challenge, running one marathon per day for seven days on seven continents.
“After the first lap, you knew what the course was like – we were basically running up and down the runway after the plane landed,” said McGillivray, remembering his first of the seven marathons, talking to the Citizen on Feb. 8, just about 36 hours after his seventh. “Temperatures were around 19-to-20-degrees Fahrenheit, with just a 12-to-15 wind chill. That wasn’t bad, compared to what it was like in New England earlier this winter. There was some blue ice, some pack snow and some snow drifts we had to get through. Running on Antarctica was a highlight for me.”
A day later, it was the same group of 50 running in Cape Town, South Africa; then Perth, Australia; followed by Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Lisbon Portugal; Cartagena, Colombia; and on Feb. 7, Miami, Fla., USA.
McGillivray is no stranger to endurance events. He ran from Medford, Ore., to his birthplace of Medford, Mass., in 1979.
“I averaged close to 50 miles per day. So, [running a marathon a day], I knew what I was up against, physically. I trained for the last year with this challenge in mind,” McGillivray said. “The tough part was everything else – the travel, lugging my luggage everywhere, not knowing where or when your next meal was coming, recovering, and every marathon was about a flight of 10-11 hours apart. I don’t know why, maybe I was wired, but I never got a good sleep on the train. I don’t think I slept more than 3 hours per day each day.
“I kept waiting for my body to give out, but it never did,” added McGillivray.
There was also the weather changes, the most notable being the difference between Antarctica and Cape Town, an increase of about 70 degrees in less than 24 hours.
For those with heart disease, they can certainly take inspiration from McGillivray’s feat. He is just four years removed from being diagnosed with coronary heart disease. Through diet, lifestyle changes and a re-commitment for fitness, he has since reduced the coronary disease by almost 50 percent.
More than being an inspiration for others, McGillivray feels inspired to help others through fundraising. He ran the World Marathon Challenge as a benefit for Team MR8, named for the 8-year-old victim of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, Martin Richard.
“I know the money is still coming in, it’s in the tens of thousands. I run for Team MR8 most of the time,” said McGillivray. “I ran last year’s Marathon and the Ironman Triathlon for MR8.”
Over seven marathons, McGillivray remained extremely consistent in his times. His fastest was Perth, in 4 hours, 28 minutes. His longest time was 4 hours, 50 minutes in Antarctica.
“I’m feeling great, no ill effects. The legs are good,” McGillivray said. “I’m excited that it’s done. All in all, it was a very interesting once in a lifetime experience.”