Since 2008, I’ve been privileged to work as a staff member on the Boston Athletic Association Boston Marathon each April.
Dave McGillivray, the race director there, took me under his wing ten years ago when I first entered the field of event management. Each year I go out to Boston and work on a different area of the event. In the past six years, I’ve been a forklift driver, a water station supply truck driver, a member of the start area set up crew, a lead vehicle driver, a celebrity runner escort, and this year, a member of the shuttle bus traffic control and gear check teams. Regardless of my role each year, I always come home feeling inspired and full of new ideas.
The finale of my Boston trip each year is the opportunity to run with Dave after the race. You see, Dave runs Boston AFTER Boston every year. He’s completed every Boston Marathon since 1973. Prior to 1988, he ran as a qualified runner, accumulating 15 finishes. In 1988, he was hired as the technical director for the BAA. For the past 25 years since, he’s ran the marathon late in the day, long after the water stations have shut down and the roads have re-opened. A handful of fellow staff members and I run as part of Dave’s entourage, supported along the way by his brother and a few other generous friends. Dave is fond of saying, “No runner should worry about being the last finisher of the race each year, because it’s always me that finishes last.”
Last year marked Dave’s 40th finish in Boston. Very few runners can boast of such an achievement. Johnny Kelley the Elder holds the record for the most Boston Marathon finishes, having started in 61 editions of the race and finished 58 of them. He completed his first Boston in 1928 at the age of 21 and his last in 1992 at the age of 84. Kelley passed away in 2004 but remains an inspiration to the Boston Marathon loyalists.
In truth, Dave’s name does not appear in the official results for any of the years that he’s ran late. I checked on this a couple years back and asked him, “If your streak isn’t actually recorded in the results, what’s the point?” He looked at me and asked, “Whadya mean?” I said, “Even if you do this for another twenty plus years, and you eclipse Kelley’s record, nobody will ever really know what you did.” He paused for a moment and said with conviction, “I’ll know. That’s all that matters.”
Yep, he’s a runner.