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Boston Marathon race director recruited to help with COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Dave McGillivray is putting his organization skills to work and helping the state of Massachusetts with its vaccine rollout

Photo by: Victah Sailer

Boston Marathon race director Dave McGillivray has been recruited by the state of Massachusetts to facilitate the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Boston. McGillivray, who has been the Boston RD for 20 years and working with the storied event for more than 30, is one of many event organizers across the U.S. who have been enlisted to help with vaccine plans. 

On top of working as the Boston Marathon RD, McGillivray runs DMSE Sports, an event management company that he founded in 1981. According to the DMSE website, the company has “organized or consulted on more than 1,000 events” since its inception. McGillivray and the DMSE team organize many high-profile races every year, including the TD Beach to Beacon in Maine, the Falmouth Road Race on Cape Cod in Massachusetts and several Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) races in addition to the Boston Marathon. 

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With decades of organizational and logistical experience, McGillivray was an ideal candidate to help with the vaccine rollout, as Anne Nagurney, a professor of information management at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, told the Associated Press. “It’s a matter of people flow and congestion management and spacing out and security,” she said — all concerns the RD of a mass participation race needs to consider. 

Jean Knaack, the executive director of the Road Runners Club of America, is also quoted in the AP report. “Race directors are the people with the skills needed to get this done quick and orderly,” she wrote on Facebook. “The event industry has skills that are being under-utilized and should be accessed as part of the much-needed mass vaccination process.”

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The B.A.A. recently announced that the Boston Marathon is set for October, but officials noted they are only moving forward with “cautious optimism,” as nothing can be certain in the age of COVID-19. This is added incentive for McGillivray, who is running vaccine operations at Boston’s Gillette Stadium and Fenway Park, to play a part in the rollout, as the faster people across the U.S. get vaccinated, the more likely the Boston Marathon can go ahead in the fall. However, while mass vaccinations give his event a better shot of being held, McGillivray said the race isn’t the priority right now. “What we’ve now committed to is arguably our greatest mission ever — saving lives and keeping people healthy.”