BOSTON — Today marks the 35th anniversary of Dave McGillivray’s historic arrival into Fenway Park after running across the United States – from Medford, Oregon to Medford, Mass. – to raise money for the Jimmy Fund cancer charity.
“It’s hard to imagine it was that long ago, seems like just the other day,” McGillivray said. “At age 23, I guess running 45 to 50 miles a day seemed like a piece of cake. Now that I’m 59, I get tired just driving that distance. Oh, to be young again!”
McGillivray gained national prominence with his 1978 cross country run that took 80 days and raised almost $150,000 for the Jimmy Fund – the first money any runner ever raised for a cancer charity, according to Runner’s World Magazine.
The Medford native covered 3,452 miles through 11 states, averaging 45 miles per day. He reached Boston on August 29, 1978 and ran two victory laps around the warning track at Fenway Park to a standing ovation before the start of a Red Sox-Mariners game. McGillivray appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America the next day and was profiled in national magazines. His feat is credited with helping connect endurance sports and philanthropy.
McGillivray, who a few years later founded Dave McGillivray Sports Enterprises, DMSE Inc., a road race management firm that directs more than 30 events per year, is also the race director of the B.A.A. Boston Marathon. He has completed a number of similar feats of endurance since his groundbreaking cross country trek, including a second cross-country run in 2004 from San Francisco to Boston as part of TREK USA, a relay team event that raised more than $300,000 for five children’s charities.
McGillivray also has run 128 marathons, completed eight Hawaii Ironman Triathlons, run up the East Coast of the U.S., run 120 miles in 24 hours, biked for 24 hours and swam for 24 hours – all to raise money for numerous worthwhile causes. He along with all the events he has directed have helped raised $100 million for charity over the years.
Even at age 59, he is still at it, recently completing his annual birthday run of 59 miles (he started running his birthday age in miles at age 12), and running the Boston Marathon course for the 41st time 11 days after this year’s April 15 marathon.
McGillivray, who lives in North Andover, Mass., recently recounted the events of this year’s marathon on an extended WEII interview and is also a guest on WROR today.
“It was a tragic day but it was also a day that renewed my faith in mankind - to see how the volunteers jumped into action and ran toward the blasts was heartening,” McGillivray said. “It renewed my faith in Boston, the marathon and people in general.”
McGillivray is a pioneer in what is now one of the most important aspects of the athletic industry – combining athletics with philanthropy. Nearly every DMSE-led or DMSE-owned event combines fitness and fundraising, giving back to the Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Children’s Hospital, Lazarus House and many others charities and non-profit organizations in New England and across the country.
About DMSE Sports
Founded by McGillivray in 1981, DMSE Sports is a leader in sports event management, specializing in creating, marketing and producing mass participatory athletic events throughout the U.S. and abroad. In addition to the B.A.A. Boston Marathon, DMSE manages more than 30 major road races per year, including the TD Beach to Beacon in Maine, the New Balance Falmouth Road Race on Cape Cod, the Finish at the 50 at Patriot Place, Run for the Dream in Williamsburg, Va., the Bellin Run in Green Bay, Wis., the Feaster Five Thanksgiving Day Run and the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk, among others. For more info, visit www.dmsesports.com.