Max is from Boston. His parents have run the Boston Marathon. And Max is running the race this year for the first time because he’s “been going since he was born and it’s always been a big part of [his] life.” It’s a classic scenario for those from Beantown, but that’s only part of the story. Max’s parents haven’t just ‘run’ the Marathon. His dad actually runs it.
Max, 23, is Max McGillivray, son of Boston Marathon Race Director Dave McGillivray. His mother is Susan Hurley, a former New England Patriots cheerleader and founder of Charity Teams, a consulting business for nonprofits who want to fundraise through races, like the Boston Marathon and the New York City Marathon. Max is the first of Dave’s five children to toe the line in Hopkinton. (Dave has two sons with ex-wife Hurley and two daughters and a son with his wife Katie.) Max is also running the race as part of the charity team program.
“I’ve never pushed my kids into anything they didn’t want to pursue. Nor did I try to overwhelm them with my involvement in the sport, although it was always all around them,” says the elder McGillivray, who will be running Boston for the 45th time. “However, I did love taking them to the Boston Marathon with me—it made my day to have them by my side.”
Even Max finds it remarkable that his parents didn’t force running, given their dedication to it. He ran cross-country in high school, but wasn’t a fan. Instead the younger McGillivray focused on academics, theater and other sports. In fact the Harvard grad says that the only thing his parents ever suggested of him was that he slow down and get more sleep. He has since participated in several races, including running a half marathon with his dad. But all of Max’s interests melded when he got a part in the movie Patriot’s Day.
“I played an FBI analyst. It was not a big role. I was on screen for less than five seconds, but it was nice to be in that sort of environment,” says Max who is pursuing a career in filmmaking. “Obviously the subject matter was pretty close to home, and I think they handled it relatively well.”
Max is running for MR8, the Martin Richard Foundation charity team. (Richards was the 8-year-old boy killed in the bombings at the 2013 Boston Marathon.) The Foundation has deep meaning with Max’s family. Along with his dad, Max has already raised over $65,000 for the Foundation this year.
“I knew I wanted to run through one of my mom’s charities, and it’s rewarding to see how much good the Martin Richard Foundation does out of such a difficult experience,” says Max, who says volunteering at the Martin Richard Foundation was the highlight of his marathon training experience. “Yes, I’m running for myself and because of my family’s history with the race. But I needed something to motivate me, to make the experience feel more important than my self interest.”
Hurley was thrilled, but nervous, that her son wanted to run as part of a charity team, since it meant they would be working and training together.
“It’s strange when you’re coaching your kid,” Hurley says. “Sometimes I wondered if he was listening, but it’s gone better than I ever expected. He’s a perfectionist and has done the training and the work. I’m super proud of him.”
Hurley and her son are in the same wave. This means they will walk to the starting line together, something she says brings her to tears. But once the race starts, Max will be running his own race. In fact, Hurley says she doesn’t want to see him on the course because he’s a better runner than her.
In addition to having his mom on the course, Max’s dad will be waiting for him at the finish.
“I wish I could actually run with him side-by-side but obviously I can’t. He will be done before I even start and might be on his third Sam Adams by the time I cross the finish line,” says Dave, 62, who starts his marathon after the other runners finish. “I can hardly wait to put the medal around his neck when he crosses that finish line!”
As for Max, he’s ready to run.
“This is a rite of passage for me. I’ve always known I would run the Boston Marathon one day,” he says. “I’m itching to get to the starting line!”
Just like all the other runners on the course, Max will be helped along his 26.2-mile journey by thousands of cheering spectators.
“The cool thing about Boston is that Boston knows runners,” Hurley says. “Now it’s Max’s turn to experience the Marathon as a runner and feel what it’s like to have a city love you and rally around you in a race.”