Just before heading to the Boston Marathon this past April, I eagerly tore through an autobiography written by the current race director, Dave McGillivray. Titled The Last Pick: The Boston Marathon Race Director’s Road to success, it gave me a much better sense of the extraordinary man behind the world-renowned race.
Dave McGillivray is one of the world’s premier race directors. He manages and oversees all operational and logistical aspects of the famed Boston Marathon, and countless other races. He’s also a well-known endurance athlete, having completed a 3,452 mile 80-day run across the country at the tender age of 24 (that’s 43 miles per day), several ocean swims, a 24-hour bike, swim, and run, as well as an annual birthday run (one mile for every year, starting at age 12 and continuing through his most recent 51st birthday). Most of Dave’s athletic pursuits are focused on raising money for charity, most notably the Jimmy Fund, which supports the fight against cancer in children and adults at Boston’s Dana-Faber Cancer Institute.
The book is mostly about Dave’s unwavering determination and upbeat approach to life. He truly makes you feel like you can accomplish anything. He spends a significant part of the book sharing his powerful memories as a vertically challenged teenager who was cut from both his high school’s basketball and baseball teams, which was obviously crushing (“Dave, if you were 5 inches taller, you’d be my starting guard.”) The experience, however, changed the course of Dave’s life forever and gave him the motivation to pursue greatness in endurance sports and race coordination.
One of my favorite parts of the book is how Dave continually references his mom’s famously delicious chocolate chip cookies (aka “CCC’s), the little energy morsels that sustained Dave through many of his athletic pursuits. During his 24- hour swim, for example, he describes how he popped 10 or so every hour. Definitely my kind of guy.
I really enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone, even if you're not an endurance sports junkie. I was hoping to run into Dave at the Boston expo so I could tell him I made his mother’s chocolate chip cookies (the recipe was included at the end of the book) the weekend before. No such luck, but maybe next year.