With the 115th Boston Marathon just four days away, new marathon executive director Tom Grilk outlined an ambitious new guiding philosophy for the 123-year-old Boston Athletic Association today, an organization he has served as president for the last seven years and race day announcer for the last two and a half decades.
“Nothing is off the table,” Grilk told me following a press conference at the Copley Plaza Hotel. “After Monday (marathon day) my job really begins.”
Grilk, who took the day-to-day reigns of the marathon from long-time executive director and now Senior Director for External Affairs Guy Morse on January 1, 2011 met the media along with Morse, race director Dave McGillivray, and new BAA president Joann Flaminio, the first woman to serve as president in the BAA’s 123 year history.
The four principals shared the dais at a mid-afternoon presser to outline their respective avenues of responsibility, and the changes being instituted for Monday’s race, most notably the three-wave start for the 27,000 starters. What came across most distinctly, however, was the synergy of the four, and their desire for the BAA to take a more forward role in the shaping of running both in Massachusetts, and in the industry at large.
Flaminio called it “this renaissance period for the BAA.” Guy Morse referred to it as “doing what the BAA should be doing.”
“We asked ourselves, ‘shouldn’t this be a more influential enterprise than it is?” said 63-year-old Grilk, himself a 2:49 marathoner from his days with the Greater Boston Track Club. “And the answer was yes. We have something like $10 million in the bank at last reported filing. We spent years building up this rainy day fund in case we needed to put on the marathon without sponsorship. Well, now there’s an opportunity now to do lots of things for lots of people. I tell our staff we need to work on three things: collaboration, innovation, and discipline.
“When you think of the BAA you think of a tradition-bound, ancient organization. But if you go back to the beginning, you had members of the BAA attending the inaugural modern Olympic Games in Greece. And they saw a marathon, and said, ‘why don’t we do one back home? They were innovative. So let us be as innovative today as those guys were back then.”
The BAA has already announced a new 10K road race for June 2011 to go along with a new prize purse for Sunday’s Third Annual BAA 5K. Those two events join the Invitation Mile following Sunday’s 5K and the popular BAA Half Marathon in October.
“We want to make this more than just one jewel of a race,” said Joann Flaminio. , “We are trying to transform the organization into a year-round operation. , When you think running, we want people to think BAA.”
Elements which had been part of the BAA’s rich history, but that had been lost over the years include a large membership, a clubhouse, an indoor games, and a move to a Sunday start for the marathon.
“Nothing is excluded,” replied Tom upon hearing the list. “Let’s be the best we can be.”