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Posted by Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

Dave McGillivray, Marathon Man

The 121st Boston Marathon takes place on April 17, 2017, and is one of the world’s premier sporting events. Organized since 1897 by the Boston Athletic Association (BAA), the Marathon is a huge tourist draw that attracts people from across the US and around the world. 

MOTT talked with B.A.A. Boston Marathon Race Director and President of DMSE Sports, Inc., Dave McGillivray, about the world’s most famous marathon and his role in it.

spotlightdave_marathonstartStarting line of the Boston Marathon, photo source:

Tell us about your association with the Boston Marathon and also about your own running career.
I was hired in 1988 as the race’s first Technical Director.  In 2001 my title was changed to Race Director.  This will be my 30th year working with the race.  I have run the Boston Marathon 44 years in a row so this will be number 45. I’ve run the last 29 of them at night after my work is done. This year will be number 30. I am always the last finisher of the race, usually finishing around 10 or 11 at night.
I’ve completed 145 competitive marathons to date but have run 26.2 miles in a day hundreds and hundreds of times. I ran across America in 1978 averaging two marathons a day for 80 consecutive days.

What does your typical schedule look like on the day of the race?
On race day, I rise at 3 a.m. and head out to Hopkinton at 4 a.m. I start the early divisions then jump on a motor scooter at the start of wave one, and ride the course with the leaders.  I check-in with all the team captains at the finish line in Copley Square. Then I head back to the hotel about 3 p.m., change and head out to Hopkinton around 4 or 5 p.m. I begin my run and finish around 10 p.m.

spotlightdave_marathonmapBoston Marathon course map, photo source:

Why do so many runners want to run the Boston Marathon in particular?
The Boston Marathon is the Holy Grail in our sport, no question about it. We may not be the largest marathon but we are arguably the most prestigious and certainly the oldest in the world. We are about the pursuit of athletic excellence and for sure, Boston is THE MARATHON that every serious marathoner strives for.

How does the B.A.A. keep a race like this going strong for 121 years?
Our greatest asset is our team and the amount of collective experience involved. Some folks have been involved for 20+ years, 30+ years, 40+ years, and yes, some even for 50+ years. That doesn’t exist anywhere else. Even our spectators are the most experienced and knowledgeable spectators in the world! Having people come back year after year and perfecting their area of responsibility is what sets the standard for the rest of the industry. Inevitably, this can be a life changing experience for thousands of runners from around the world.

The Boston Marathon is truly an international event. What is the breakdown of the 30,000 runners?
I believe 99 countries are represented in this year’s race and all 50 states. There are about 6,500 international runners. So, a little more than 20% of the field are international runners.

spotlightdave_runningDave crossing the finish line at Gillette and Ironman

We notice the runners and spectators like to hang around after the race, which is great for our tourism industry!
We work with the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism in distributing material about our amazing state. Not only do the runners get to experience the greatest marathon in the world, they get to experience one of the greatest states in the country. We are a destination location, which creates even more demand on runners wanting to come to Boston. The economic impact figures are over the top, somewhere in the $180 to $190 million range. Pretty impressive!

Thanks Dave and good luck this year!

For more information about the Boston Marathon, visit