From Running the Race to Running the Show
For 14 years following his first marathon, McGillivray continued running the event as a regular participant. Young and not yet married, he focused all of his energy on training and being the best runner he could be. He ran across the country from Medford, Oregon to Bedford, Massachusetts in 80 days, and ran up the east coast for another challenge. He focused his career on running, creating a business acting as a race director for events.
In 1988, McGillivray's role with the Boston Marathon transitioned from that of a race participant to the race director. After landing his dream job, he dedicated himself to improving the operations of the race and immediately instituted several logistical and safety changes. Two of the biggest changes were a controlled wheelchair start and a human chain at the start line (instead of a rope, which sometimes caused runners to trip in previous years).
He took pride in directing the race that had such personal meaning to him, but still part of him yearned to be among the runners on the course.
That first year as race director, McGillivray was standing at the finish line, watching some of the last finishers earn their medals. He decided that he needed to run the race and asked one of the nearby police officers to take him back to the start.
Assuming the race director had left something at the start line, the officer agreed to drive him back and eventually escorted McGillivray as he ran the 26.2 miles to the finish. As he completed the race at 11 p.m. that night, he knew that he would be the last finisher from that point on.
The Last Finisher
For the past 28 years, McGillivray has continued to run the race after most participants collected their medals, even while they showered, celebrated and filled their stomachs with post-race indulgence. And it's something he doesn't plan on stopping anytime soon.
Though spectators weren't sure how to respond in the early years—with some even calling him a slug because they thought he'd started with the masses and was just very slow—McGillivray has acquired quite the fan base these days.
People now line the streets to cheer on the hometown guy from Medford, who started with a dream and found—over 150,000 miles of running—that his life's purpose is to help others realize their dreams.
As McGillivray heads into running his 43rd Boston Marathon, he'll approach it with the motto he imparts on others, "It's my life, so it's my rules." Believing that anything is possible, McGillivray wants the runners of the Boston Marathon to know he'll be there making sure their dreams can come true on race day, and says not to let distraction veer them from the course.
As for the motivation McGillivray uses to get through any adversity, he says, "Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
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