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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 didn’t go home that Patriots Day. He stayed at the BAA offices with a team of workers and volunteers, trying to makes sense of what had happened.

It wasn’t until Tuesday night that McGillivray returned to his home in North Andover and saw his family for the first time since the bombings.

“I hugged my wife and children,” recalled McGillivray. “The first thing Luke said to me was, ‘Are you OK? Are you OK?’ Then he said something to me that really struck home.

“He said, ‘I don’t want you to direct that race any more.’ I told him I appreciated his concern and that everything would be okay. He then asked if the bombers would come to our house. It was tough.”

As the terrorist drama captivated the country over the next week, McGillivray and BAA officials met to talk about what had happened and what it meant for the marathon’s future.

Meanwhile, McGillivray said, something wonderful happened. The world reached out to support the BAA and the marathon.

“We would come to the office and there would be staff lunches, already paid for, by ‘XYX Race,’” said McGillivray. “We got race banners, signed by thousands of runners and volunteers, from races all over the world, sent to our offices. It’s been very humbling.

“And honestly, it’s not just the running community,” said McGillivray. “Americans have reached out to Boston and this race. Actor Kevin Spacey, who was in Cambridge and wanted to meet the staff. What he said was better than any inspirational speaker could have said. It has been awe-inspiring in so many ways.”

Until this year, McGillivray had run in 40 straight Boston Marathons, the fourth longest runner’s streak.

“What some people don’t realize is I’ve been a participant longer than I’ve been a race director,” McGillivray said. “My first priority is managing the race. Once that is done, once I cover the course and make sure everything and everyone is OK, I run it myself.”

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