Tom Grilk and Dave McGillivray talk about the 2014 race.
Last Friday, registration for time-qualifiers for the 2014 Boston Marathon closed. The Boston Athletic Association expanded the field size to 36,000 to allot for the expected high interest in running the 2014 race.
Runner’s World Newswire talked with race director Dave McGillivray and B.A.A. Executive Director Tom Grilk about the expanded field size, logistical challenges and the future of the Boston Marathon field.
How did you reach the figure of 36,000 for 2014?
Dave McGillivray: Our field size limit has been 27,000. We invited back the 5,600 who were stopped this year and estimated that close to 5,000 would register and return, which made the field size 32,000. Knowing the incredible demand we would experience to run in the 2014 race, we decided to add another 4,000 slots, making the total field size 36,000, thus creating a fourth wave of 9,000 runners. Approval by all cities and towns for this increase was recently granted.
Tom Grilk: The reason we even considered enlarging the field was to show that neither our community nor our sport gives in to terror. It is also a gesture meant to help express a broader tribute to all who were affected by what happened in April of this year. But then Dave and the rest of us had to work out what could actually be done, since we are running over the same roads that the race covered in 1897.
Why not more? If the race could handle 38,000+ registrants in 1996, why not more for 2014?
D.M.: We had more staging space at the start in 1996 where school buildings now sit. The 1996 race started at noon, giving us more time to transport all the runners to the start, a very complex system given our limited space. Also, given the expected heightened level of security, we feel it was in everyone's best interest to increase to a number we all could safely manage.
T.G.: The fact that the various municipalities over which we run were willing to consider any sort of increase is a testament to their confidence in Dave and all of the thousands of people who work on the race. As Dave and many of them worked out what we believe to be a safe and practical field size for 2014, they received the support and collaboration from all the municipalities and the state that we always enjoy. The field size we will have is the field size that they collectively believe to be manageable.
Moving forward, if having 36,000 works out okay, why go back to 27,000 in 2015?
D.M.: Although we are expecting this increase in field size to be just for the 2014 race, no definitive decisions have been made for 2015 and beyond at this time.
T.G.: Our entire focus is on having our 2014 race meet the expectations of the great many people and constituencies whom we serve. We'll look at 2015 when the 2014 race is over.
What are the biggest additional challenges related to the field increase for 2014?
D.M.: Logistically, it is always about available space and time; that is, real estate available to stage runners at the start and accept them at the finish as well as time on the road. We want to maintain our high standards of quality and as such will have to work hard to make appropriate adjustments to handle the increase.
T.G.: Meeting the high standards of all of the people whom we are privileged to serve remains our number one challenge.
Do you anticipate a greater than usual number of bandits for 2014?
D.M.: We truly hope not. We really want to discourage unregistered participants this year more than ever given lack of space and the level of security that most likely will be present. This is the year to cheer on those who have earned the right to be here. Soon we will be announcing our plans for other race weekend events, which will give others an opportunity to participate.
T.G.: We will ask for everyone's cooperation in not diminishing the experience for those who have properly entered--as well as not overburdening our support systems--by running unofficially. We anticipate a high degree of cooperation, just as we have received an immense degree of support from everyone in so many other areas in recent months.