Race Director Role Reimagined

As the sun rises on Fenway Park tomorrow morning, February 1st, Dave McGillivray’s crew, DMSE Sports, best known for directing the Boston Marathon, will be there, assisting in operations for the first day of COVID vaccines offered at that site.

Like many stadiums across the country, Fenway Park is serving a new purpose, COVID vaccine site.

I first read about this on Let’s Run and more recently from Runner’s World. Prior to the opening of the Fenway vaccine site, DMSE has been involved in assisting at the Gillette Stadium site in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

This makes so much sense. Who better to assist and collaborate in organization of COVID testing and vaccine administration sites than race directors. McGillivray and his team have organized over a thousand races where a similar skill set is needed.

  • How do you space thousands of runners starting at different times to finishing at different times?
  • What supplies must be on hand and when? How will they be stored until use?
  • How will you manage crowds and assist with parking or other transportation?
  • How do you work within a specific venue?
  • How do you ensure the safety of volunteers?
  • Do you need to protect participants from the elements while they wait for their turn?
  • How do you monitor traffic needs during the event? Will road closures or lane closures be needed?
  • How do you do all of the above safety and efficiently?

If there was ever a time when we need people who know how to organize, this is it. Most race directors will have asked themselves the above questions and successfully sought the answers. With races still being cancelled or rescheduled to late 2021, race directors and their organizations have the time and skill set to play an important role and assist in the unanticipated events needed during the COVID crisis.

While many of us have spent the past ten months cleaning closets, binge-watching multiple streaming series, giving our gardens more attention, and rearranging our race calendar yet again, McGillivray, and I suspect other race directors, have temporarily transferred their skills. They’ve reimagined their profession for a crisis we couldn’t imagine.

McGillivray expects the COVID project will be running for six to eight months. With the Boston Marathon now rescheduled from its traditional date of the third Monday in April to Monday, October 11 the DMSE team will have a full year of practicing their organizational skills.

Working toward a finish with COVID

In the words of Dave McGillivray, “The comeback is always stronger than the setback.”


  1. I am in PA as well & have somewhat followed what is happening in Philly. Finding who is accepting appointments in my area is like Dialing for Dollars (or hitting refresh on websites). Take care.

  2. Mary, great blog. Thanks. Hope you and Ray have received your vaccinations. We got our first on the 20th ofJanuary and just received our second dose of Pfizer on February 10th…..so we are feeling a little safer though we are still being very careful, avoid indoor dining, wearing our masks, keeping our distance from others, washing hands etc. The numbers are still a concern here in SC. Hope you, Ray and Seth are all well.  cliff & Kate

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