Dave McGillivray doesn’t let heart surgery end his Boston Marathon streak

David Ryan/Globe Staff
After taking care of his official duties, BAA Marathon director Dave McGillivray ran the race himself.

For 46 consecutive years, Boston Marathon race director Dave McGillivray had completed the Boston Marathon.

Despite undergoing triple bypass surgery on Oct. 12, McGillivray made sure year 47 was no different.

His race-day duties complete, McGillivray took off from Hopkinton just before 4 p.m. to conquer the 26.2-mile path an estimated 30,000 people had taken on earlier Monday.


“This was special,” McGillivray, who completed the course in under six hours, said. “With the surgery six months ago, I was able to surprise myself and do better than I had hoped.”

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Running alongside a group of 16 people, McGillivray eclipsed the halfway point of the storied course in 2:45. He made it to the top of Heartbreak Hill at 8:26 p.m. before descending upon the finish line at 9:44 p.m.

“I asked my heart surgeon, ‘There is this little jog in April, what do you think?’ ” McGillivray said. “He didn’t say yes, and he didn’t say no. He said, ‘I’d be extremely disappointed if you couldn’t do it.’ ”

In early September, McGillivray, 64, underwent his third angiogram in five years. The test revealed blockage in his arteries, with 80 percent blockage in one heart artery and damage in another.

“My new slogan and mission is that if you feel something, act on it,” McGillivray said.


The news came as a shock to someone so fit. Just months earlier, in January, McGillivray had completed the World Marathon Challenge. This elite competition challenges runners to run seven marathons on seven continents in seven days.

After surgery, McGillivary could not resist the urge of lacing up the running shoes for long. On Dec. 1, just seven weeks after lying on the operating table, McGillivray set out for a run.

He ran the first half-mile before walking the next two-tenths of a mile, pushing the lingering soreness and sensitivity out of his chest. Then, he stretched his run to a full mile before walking for one-tenth of a mile. After that, he set out again, finishing the afternoon with three miles of running and six-tenths of a mile of walking.

That run was the first step in McGillivray’s comeback to the Boston Marathon.

Related: Results from the 2019 Boston Marathon