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May 5, 2013

The man and his race: Marathon director reflects on his experience in wake of bombings

Race director Dave McGillivray of North Andover, reflects on the day Boston Marathon changed forever


McGillivray knows as much about wind chill, arctic freezes and jet stream as any lay person. As race director for 20 to 30 events per year, including the Thanksgiving Day Feaster Five in Andover, he knows that weather is to races what location is to real estate.

Last year, temperatures were in the 80s for the Boston Marathon, causing hundreds of runners to opt out.

So he was beaming when forecast of temperatures in the 50s proved true on marathon Monday.

He was the starting line in Hopkinton and rode back to Boston on the lead motorcycle.

“I remember driving into Boston thinking, ‘What a perfect day!’” recalled McGillivray. “It was just the kind of race and day we needed to recover from last year.”

About 50 yards from the finish line, McGillivray waved to his wife, Katie, and their two children, Ellie, 9, and Luke, 7, sitting in the bleachers.

“Everything was clicking,” he said. “I checked with the captains. I went over to check the medical tent. Then I went over to see my wife and kids. It was a great day.”

For 25 years, McGillivray has had a routine. He made sure everything was OK at the finish line, then headed back to Hopkinton to run the marathon route himself with a few friends.

This year, after going through his checklist at the finish line, he sent a text message to BAA Executive Director Tom Grilk to let him know he was headed back to Hopkinton.

Grilk sent a two-word reply: “Beat it”

McGillivray bolted for Hopkinton with his good friend Ron Kramer. They arrived at the starting point at 2:47 p.m. Normally, he wouldn’t remember the exact minute he arrived, but what happened minutes later will etch the time in his mind.

“Ron’s daughter called him and told him what happened, that there were two bombs,” said McGillivray.

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