Sometimes it helps to take stock of the past while heading into the future.
On Saturday, Boston running icon Dave McGillivray and his sports organization, Dave McGillivray Sports Enterprises (DMSE), were honored at the Boston Marriott Quincy. The "30 Years Running" gala offered attendees -- including former Marathon champions Bill Rodgers and Greg Meyer, and Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) -- a chance to look back at three decades of DMSE and the many races that it manages or consults on -- including the Boston Marathon.
McGillivray, a Medford native, has a long resume. He ran over 3,000 miles across the country to benefit the Jimmy Fund. He once ran the Marathon blindfolded. In January, he was inducted into the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame. He described his philosophy as focusing on "what you can do rather than what you can't do."
DMSE was hired as technical coordinator of the Boston Marathon in 1988 and has assisted with 23 Marathons; it has also played a role in the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, and the USA Women's Olympic Trials in 2004 and 2008.
"We've come a long way from 30 years and 900 events throughout New England, the US and the world," McGillivray said. "My dream was that I always wanted to be an athlete, to be fit. I didn't dream of being a race director."
However, quite a list of luminaries praised McGillivray and DMSE for directing races.
"Dave is never confused about his connection to the Boston Marathon," said Tom Grilk, the ex-president and current executive director of the Boston Athletic Association. "(People involved in the Marathon) say what a spectacular experience it was, how important they were made to feel. The character of the organization takes on the character of the people who run it. For many, it is a once-in-a-lifetime event, that winds up in their obituaries."
"It's fun to come here," said Rodgers, who won the Marathon in 1975 and from 1978-80. "Dave's everywhere. My first recollection of him is when he ran across the country. I don't want to run that far. We're all lucky to be part of the boom in running. It lifted us up. The future is bright - maybe another 30 years?"
Those who delivered tributes frequently mentioned the charitable aspect of McGillivray's efforts. In addition to the Jimmy Fund, DMSE has also benefited such charities as Lazarus House in Lawrence (its executive director, Bridget Shaheen, was a speaker). Proceeds from the gala benefited the "Running in Places" program, through which the DMSE Fitness Foundation helps youngsters learn about fitness and Boston-area educational opportunities like the Museum of Science.
The event also featured a silent auction of items such as a hockey stick autographed by the 2010-11 Boston Bruins; an autographed photo of former president George W. Bush; and dinner/coffee and a Capitol tour from Sen. Brown.
Brown ended up speaking twice ... once via video when it appeared he couldn't attend in person ("I'm doing the budget in DC in the mornings and getting ready for triathlon season") ... and once shortly after dinner was served, when he was able to arrive.
"I'm 51 and not a day goes by - it's like a drug - that I don't think I have to get a workout done," Brown said. He added that some senators in Washington "are obviously not in the best of shape" ... but said that rumored GOP presidential hopeful John Thune of South Dakota "and I are very competitive. I'm trying to get him to do triathlons."
Rich Tenorio writes a weekly running column for The Item. Email him at email@example.com.