The year was 1980. There were 108 of us signed up for the third running of an event called The Ironman Triathlon on the island of Oahu. In both 1978 and 1979, 15 adventurers had signed up for the 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and 26.2 mile run to see if they had what it took to get to the finish line. There were 12 finishers in both 1978 and 1979, a grand total of only 24 Ironman finishers up until that point in time. But the 1979 Sports Illustrated article on Tom Warren’s 1979 win changed everything.
In 1980, the last year before the Ironman moved to the Big Island of Hawaii, 108 of us toed the line at Ala Moana Park. There were no aid stations – you had to supply your own crew – and no roads were blocked off. I remember that each of us was asked to fill out an athletic resume’, which was pretty easy for me since I was a PE teacher at a small private school in San Diego and had no accomplishments whatsoever. As I paged through the resume’s of the real athletes in the race, there was three-time Olympic cyclist John Howard, and top swimmer Dave Scott. But the one resume’ that stopped me in my tracks, that made me realize I was in WAY over my head, came from a young man from Boston named Dave McGillivray. On Dave’s resume’ he explained how he had run over 3,000 miles across the U.S., going from Medford, Oregon to Medford, Massachusetts. I couldn’t get over the fact that someone could actually get up every morning for I don’t know how many days and just run 50 miles. What type of athletic freaks am I dealing with here? That moment was 36 years ago and I remember it like it was yesterday.
So what is that athletic freak doing today? Well, he happens to be the Race Director of the Boston Marathon and on Monday night [April 18, 2016], after putting on a little event for 30,000 of his closest friends, he went back to the start in Hopkinton and ran his 44th Boston Marathon in a row.
Some things never change.