Boston Marathon race director runs coronavirus vaccination effort

Dave McGillivray
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A year into the coronavirus pandemic, Americans are painfully aware that overcoming the scourge is a marathon, not a sprint.

Enter Dave McGillivray, who knows a thing or two about endurance events — and logistics.

The race director of the Boston Marathon, which is on hold until fall, has been tapped by the state of Massachusetts to run mass vaccination operations at Gillette Stadium and Fenway Park.

Idled at his day job by the pandemic, he’s part of an emerging group of event organizers and other unconventional logistics experts who are using their skills to help the nation vaccinate as many people against COVID-19 as possible.

“It’s amazing how our event management skill set can be applied to running a massive vaccination site,” said McGillivray, who has been directing the marathon — with its many moving parts — for more than three decades.

The push for creative workarounds comes as virus cases surge nationwide, lines grow at testing and vaccination sites and tempers flare as government websites crash beneath the digital weight of millions desperately seeking appointments.

Likening it to a “wartime effort,” President Joe Biden announced last week that the U.S. is ramping up deliveries to hard-pressed states and expects to provide enough doses to vaccinate 300 million Americans by the end of the summer or early fall.

Road race organizers are a natural fit for vaccine distribution, said Jean Knaack, executive director of the Road Runners Club of America, which sanctions thousands of road races and triathlons.

“Race directors are the people with the skills needed to get this done quick and orderly,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “The event industry has skills that are being underutilized and should be accessed as part of the much-needed mass vaccination process.”

McGillivray says he’s grateful not only to use his marathon expertise to help end the pandemic but because the state vaccination contract has become a lifeline that’s helping to keep his company, DMSE Sports, Inc., afloat.

“We almost went out of business,” he said. “The pandemic put everything on hold. What we’ve now committed to is arguably our greatest mission ever — saving lives and keeping people healthy.”

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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen
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Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

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Sifan Hassan sets marathon debut

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Sifan Hassan, who won 5000m and 10,000m gold and 1500m bronze at the Tokyo Olympics in an unprecedented triple, will make her 26.2-mile debut at the London Marathon on April 23.

Hassan, a 30-year-old Dutchwoman, said she will return to the track after the race, but how the London Marathon goes will play into whether she bids for the Olympic marathon in 2024.

“I want to see what I can do on the marathon distance, to make future decisions,” she posted on social media. “We’ll see if I will finish the distance or if the distance will finish me.”

Exhausted by her Olympic feat, Hassan reportedly went at least seven months after the Tokyo Games between training in track spikes. She finished fourth in the 10,000m and sixth in the 5000m at last July’s world championships in Eugene, Oregon.

“I really needed a break after the Tokyo Olympics,” Hassan said at worlds. “I was mentally crashed. I didn’t even care about running.”

London, billed as the best women’s marathon field in history, also boasts Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya, world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya, 2016 Olympic 10,000m champion Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia, 1500m world record holder Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia and the two fastest Americans in history, Emily Sisson and Keira D’Amato.

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