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home > community > viewpoint > the last pick: the boston marathon race director's road to success

The Last Pick: The Boston Marathon Race Director's Road to Success
Dave McGillivray has built a life and a business from setting goals and meeting challenges with energy and enthusiasm, determination and planning. His name has become synonymous with inspiration and generosity, pain and perseverance, and meticulous preparation in all endeavors.

The Last Pick: The Boston Marathon Race Director's Road to Success

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Dave McGillivray's Website

By Skip Cleaver
Posted Wednesday, 25 October, 2006

With his recently published book, The Last Pick, he has found a vehicle to impart some of his legendary motivational spark, inspiration, and high standards. Here he conveys his burning desire for success to others—athletes and non-athletes alike.

Working with co-author Linda Glass Fechter, they have created a critically important and tremendously motivational book about overcoming obstacles and handicaps to win acclaim; and, more importantly, to defeat difficult challenges to attain personal successes and achievements. Fechter provides her distinctive, readable style and McGillivray the substance. This is an account of athletic and organizational achievement set down in a smooth and entertaining style.

This is the first book for both, and I’m sure it will not be the last. The Last Pick will be a first pick off the shelf—now, and for the upcoming holiday season.

In addition to a stunning forward by Olympic Gold Medallist Joan Benoit Samuelson, simply reading the endorsements is inspiring: Doug Flutie, Bill Rodgers, Alberto Salazar, Lance Armstrong, six time Triathlon World Champion Dave Scott, New Zealand Olympian Rod Dixon, Olympic Gold Medallist (four-swimming) John Naber, Boston Marathon winner Amby Burfoot, Boston Celtics star and coach Dave Cowens, Hall of Fame pitcher Dennis Eckersley, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, Red Sox star and Chairman of the Jimmy Fund Mike Andrews, Patriots star quarterback Steve Grogan, and Alexandra Paul, actress and Ironman and Boston Marathon participant.

Dave McGillivray is many things: Athlete, businessman, husband, father, motivational speaker, dreamer, student, agent, charitable contributor, and now, writer. And he is driven. He is competitive. He has always had a burning desire to achieve athletic greatness and secure recognition; and above all, gain respect. He learned at an early age to set very high standards for himself and for those around him.

This book is about his achievements, and his standards. It is also about compassion and community, bonding and family, generosity and giving back. Dave has a long list of accomplishments at age 52. He is the Race Director of the Boston Marathon and President of Dave McGillivray Sports Enterprises (DMSE), founder and director of numerous events, a member of dozens of boards and advisory panels, and so much more. And the first impression one gets in reading The Last Pick is that he has just begun. The second impression is that neither he nor the book can really be defined or categorized. And that makes it all the more interesting and arresting.

This is a book about what is possible, what can be accomplished, especially by those with perceived shortcomings and disabilities. As McGillivray says, “We all have the capacity to make great things happen in our lives.” He sees athletic events as metaphors for life in general.

The Last Pick is more than a title for this book. It was a fundamental challenge and driver for Dave McGillivray’s life. Tremendously athletic and competitive, he was deemed too short by his high school basketball coach, and was cut. He was also cut from the high school baseball team. Small in stature, he was sometimes bullied in school and on the playground, as was his brother. He was literally the last one picked time after time for the pickup teams. He practiced endlessly and could make 80 to 100 foul shots in a row. He could beat the big guys one-on-one every time. He could hit and catch the baseball with the best in town. But it didn’t matter. Discouraged? No! He took it as a challenge, and an opportunity to prove something.

He was a gifted athlete and starred on the soccer team, cross country team, and track team. His first (of many) adventures in multi tasking came when he ran cross country and played soccer in the same fall season. He received numerous awards for athletic prowess. He was valedictorian of both his high school and college class, another example of his dedication, preparation, and competitive nature.

But he never got over being told he could not accomplish something, when he knew within that he could. So beyond high school and college, he set his own goals and his own ground rules. He alone would determine what could be done, and what challenges were to be met.

With early accomplishments, admiration, reputation, and expectations grew. In recounting those tremendous athletic and organizational challenges and accomplishments, anyone reading The Last Pick will be powerfully motivated to set their own goals and parameters, and to measure their own success.

Run Across the USA
The foundation of this book, as with the foundation of McGillivray’s career, is his run across the USA as a 24-year-old in 1978. His 3,452-mile trek in 80 days benefited the Jimmy Fund, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He planned it; he accomplished it. With sponsorship support from a company called Pro Specs (athletic shoes and apparel), and with a dedicated support team of friends, he averaged just over 43 miles per day for 80 consecutive days. He completed this phenomenal undertaking on August 29, 1978, one week after his 24th birthday.

He had the support of the Red Sox and the Jimmy Fund, integral to the Red Sox for decades. He began in Seattle at the Kingdome during a Red Sox-Mariners game, and completed his run at Fenway Park in front of 32,000 fans on Jimmy Fund night--prior to a Red Sox-Mariners game. As he and Linda Fechter point out in this incredible story, this was his “home run” and his “Olympics”. It was a beginning. It took the math major away from his desk as an actuary, and put him on the road to athletic and business success. Since that run, that keystone event, his skills and his reputation as both an endurance athlete and an event organizer have climbed steadily to among the foremost in the world.

This package of 260 pages will motivate and scintillate all who take it in. You will want to get out and run. You will want to contribute to charity and volunteer for events. You will want to fulfill potential, and you will be much more willing to overcome obstacles to complete goals and obligations.

Anyone who has ever attended any of Dave McGillivray’s motivational speeches will tell you that they left the venue wanting more information. They wanted more details on the how and why of the Run Across the USA. They want to know about the 25th anniversary relay version, Trek USA, a charity relay for kids from SBC Park in San Francisco to Fenway Park in Boston, which Dave accomplished in 2004 with 10 other relay runners and support crew—each runner logging 25 miles per day. This book provides many of those details, including the hardships and the unique challenges.

Although the Trans America is comparable to Olympic Gold, as many have said, McGillivray did not rest on laurels as do some famous athletes. He did not retire. He used it as a landmark, as a beginning. He used the meticulous planning skills acquired, used the publicity and recognition to do even more for charitable causes—close to his heart in all events since. He used it to build a business that would allow charitable promotion and contribution indefinitely, not just for a summer.

Management—Ego and Organization
They dedicate a chapter to the ego, and how it fits with athletic and other accomplishments. The chapter is, “Ego is Not a Four-Letter Word”. He explains how ego drives one forward to accomplish difficult tasks, and to push one to excel in all things. He sees ego as a way of promoting what one stands for, rather than promoting self. However, he is also very humble in surprising ways: The devastation of divorce, the inability to swim the English Channel, the hypothermia that defeated him in an attempt to swim Nantucket Sound, the need to rest an injury on a 1,500 mile run up the East Coast, and others. He learned humility in equal balance. He does not fear failure; he uses it for motivation. And that may be one of the best lessons of the book.

Organization is Dave McGillivray’s business. And the math major is also a teacher and a coach. With The Last Pick we are treated to the grit and determination, the advantages of the hard-earned wisdom, and positive examples that are displayed as a result of one man’s drive and accomplishments. In The Last Pick we are provided insights to a remarkable man who, since age 12 has run his age on his birthday, has run 35 consecutive Boston Marathons, has helped direct Olympic events, has been recognized as Race Director of the Year, and has received so many accolades we can’t possibly list them here.

This book is a motivational tool and an inspirational story. Dave McGillivray has run more than 130,000 miles-many of them brutally painful. He has directed and consulted on some of the greatest athletic events, such as the 100th Boston Marathon and the Olympic Marathon, run across the country, helped raise funds for the Jimmy Fund numerous times, helped found a running club in Walpole Federal Prison (and ran races within the prison walls), and has a list of titles and accomplishments pages long. However, his greatest achievements may be in inspiring others to greatness—whether an associate, a tiny disabled woman running only 26 feet, or a prisoner running a 10K. We can learn a great deal from this. It is a good read, a very good read.

Published by Rodale, Inc., ISBN 10 1-59486-422-5



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