450 friends, family members, and co-workers gathered last night at the Quincy Marriott to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Dave McGillivray Sports Enterprises (DMSE).  Dave is the race director of the Boston Marathon, Joan Samuelson’s TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10K, and much else.  Joining in the celebration were Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, an avid triathlete, marathon legend Bill Rodgers, and former Ironman World Champion Karen Smyers.  Each had been touched by the work of DMSE over the years.  I had the pleasure of co-emceeing the evening’s gala.  

But let’s go back 30 years to 1981

  It was “Morning in America”, or so Ronald Reagan had us believe.

The national savings rate hovered around 10%…and those who did run, ran fast…boy have times changed.

The Boston Celtics won their 14th NBA title, their first with Larry Bird,

Time magazine named Poland’s Solidarity leader Lech Walesa its “Man of the Year”,

and MTV went on the air for the first time that August showing The Buggles, “Video Killed the Radio Star” as their first video.

On the big screen, “Chariots of Fire” won best picture at Oscars,

And the year ended with Olivia Newton John’s “Lets Get Physical” holding down the top spot on the charts…a perfect piece of pop confection.

 As the `80s began, the country was emerging from Watergate, Vietnam, and the Arab oil embargo…it was a time when the generation called “Baby Boomers” were laying to rest their once flowery conceit that they could change the world in a whirlwind of righteous indignation alone, as the idealism of youth began bumping up against a growing cynicism and the onset of adult responsibilities.

It was around this time that this generation began turning inward in their search for a purpose to embrace rather than a cause to rail against.  At the same time, many felt conflicted about striving for success in ways defined by their parents and grandparents generations. And so with the benefit of a stable economy that allowed an affordable education and time to season their skills, they struck out attempting to somehow link their vocations with their avocations, and in so doing create a life of meaning and purpose rather than one of material comfort alone.  

It was out of this circumstance that the running industry emerged after heroes like Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers had inspired us with their feats of glory. In 1981 DMSE came into being, coalescing around the idea that an industry still in its infancy, but build on a solid foundation here in New England, was in need of an even greater degree of professional management to control the booming numbers joining the movement on what seemed a daily basis.

Led by a unique individual whose passions and skills meshed perfectly with the times, and assisted by a band of brothers who shared his vision and dedication, 30 years and 900 events later DMSE, and the still-growing industry it serves, continues to find purpose fueled by the very same passion that generated its founding.

We celebrated last night, many of us members of that generation who once sought to change the world through sit-ins and marches, but who, through the course of 30 years had unwittingly achieved our youthful goal by the simple, but profound act of running. 

It might not have been the revolutionary change we had first conceived in our times of protest.  Instead, due to its method, it was a revolution that lasted, coming, as it did, step by step, day by day, week in and month out, each step in its place, none before the first, none greater than the last, one generating another until, in their accumulation, we had crossed over, realizing that in changing myself we had together, indeed, changed the world. 

Dave McGillivray has accomplished a lot…Been given many awards and commendations…Been inducted into numerous Halls Of Fame…But it’s the people Dave has gathered around him, both at last night’s gala, and in professional and personal life who make up his greatest achievement…Family And Friendship In The Pursuit Of Excellence For The Betterment Of Others.

He took a perceived short-coming – his own lack of height – and turned it into a giant’s life…not just a race director, Dave is one of the leading architects of an entire fitness industry…30 years and no end in sight…May the celebration continue for another 30 years.  Congratulations Dave and DMSE.


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