Friday, April 11, 2014

Rally-NH Seacoast Strong in Support of the Boston Marathon: Stories from 2013 and a very Special Guest

Boston Runners and Volunteers rally at the North Hampton NH Home Depot joined by Dave McGillvery Marathon Race Director (dark blue 2014 Marathon jacket.
I saw in our local paper that a rally to support the Boston Marathon had been organized by 2 long time race volunteers Pat Cote and Matt Carpenter at the local Home Depot. Pat is a 19 year volunteer and Matt is a 29! year volunteer and is in charge of the 120 volunteers manning the elite waterstops. MC for the event Andy Schalet who announces literally hundreds of road races a year in New England and is the calm, informative decisive last voice most of hear every year as we round the corner into the Boston start corrals.  These folks are among the many who make Boston so special.

Well, there was one more special guest....Dave McGillvray, the long time Race Director who  came up in the middle of obviously one of the busiest weeks any human could have to speak and answer questions.

After Dave 2 runners told their stories from the 2013 race. Incredibly moving was Vicki Miller's story. She is the president of one of the largest New England running clubs and a many time Boston runner. It turns out the first bomb went off in front of her and the second behind her on the finishing stretch. She recounted in great detail and with great emotion what she felt and thought. Should she finish, should she go to the side of the course, the run through debris and body parts, the confusion after the finish, deciding if she should hide under a truck as rumors talked of more bombs or shooters. Incredibly, I was no more than 300 yards further away from the finish line  when the bombs went off and while it was a confused and tense scene it was not the horrifying terror of being so close.

Seacoast Online published an article on the rally with emphasis on Vicki and Dave McGillvray's comments. From the article:

"I saw evil that day," Miller said.

"This year it's going to be love, compassion," Miller said. "This is going to be the (race) of the century."

" McGillivray said he and other race officials have focused on being strong leaders in the months since the bombings, although he said he thinks his ability to distance himself from having an "emotional" reaction to the attack "will all come crashing down on April 15" and during the series of remembrances that lead up to this year's marathon on April 21.

"My own son sat in the bleachers across the street (from the first bomb)," said McGillivray, explaining his decision to run to raise money for the Richard family, as it will be the first time he's run the marathon for anything other than himself. "It could've been the other way around. How can your heart not cry out? That's why I wanted to help out."

Dave gave us some very interesting insights into the past year and the lead up to this year's race. Amazing leadership, focus, and grasp of myriad details. He has run the race 41 times ( I believe not far from the record)  and is known for running the course after the race finishes. He was on course when the bombs went off. An "immortal" with over a 100 marathons, a transcontinental run, a run from Maine to Florida, and many Ironman Tri he underwent a serious heart health scare this year and immediately changed what he could: his diet. He has lost 28 pounds and says he is feeling great but the stress.. probably not a good thing.

Some race tips and stats from Dave:

  • 10,000 volunteers, 5,000 others seeking to help were turned away.
  • 95,000 daffodils were planted and should be blooming on the course, finally in 60's today! 
  • 588 buses will be used to shuttle 36,000 runners to the start in a coordinated fashion to synch with 5 wave starts so that no more than 18,000 are in the Athlete's Village at a time.
  • There is less room in Hopkinton than a hundred years ago when a few dozen ran or even at the record 100th but they will make it work as they always do. 
  • The start road is 39' feet wide, as always. NY has 17 lanes!
  • No backpacks, as we know, but he said if you need 3 small fanny packs including  one around your head feel free in response to a question from a runner about how to bring pre race gear.
  • Security will be strong. Unlike a single venue with concentric rings of security, the security at the Marathon will be "in it" not around it.
  • Finally, a wonderful quote from Dave" "Scar tissue is stronger than original skin."
I am honored and humbled to have the opportunity to take the start of this wonderful and special event this year.

Much as the rally also gave all of us who were at the Marathon last year an opportunity to speak, please feel free to comment and share your thoughts and recollections here.
We are all Boston Strong.  

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