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Guy Morse of BAA to retire

Guy Morse, 61, will retire from the Boston Athletic Association at the end of the year, concluding a 28-year career with the organization. He has served as race director for the Boston Marathon, executive director, and, most recently, as senior director of external affairs.

Under Morse’s leadership, the Boston Marathon instituted prize money and secured long-term corporate sponsorships, ensuring its status as one of the preeminent marathons in the world. With Morse providing direction, the event grew from an amateur race with approximately 5,000 participants to one with 27,000 runners, including the top male and female marathoners in the world. And the top marathoners now compete for more than $800,000 in prize money.

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“I believe now is the appropriate time to bring to a close this stage of my career, having served the BAA in a number of roles and in various ways for almost three decades,’’ said Morse in a statement Monday. “I confidently look back upon our accomplishments during my tenure as a leader in the running industry and the community knowing that we are among the most prestigious and stable sports organizations in the world.

“I have been delighted to contribute to the BAA as we have moved towards a highly professional model, and I cannot be more pleased that the BAA and its many events, especially the Boston Marathon, stand on solid ground. I am immensely proud of the work we did - particularly in the difficult 1980s and into the early 1990s - in having essentially rebuilt the organization.’’

Morse was also at the helm when the Marathon experienced registration difficulties in 2010. The race filled in what Morse called “unprecedented’’ fashion, taking eight hours to reach its quota of qualified runners. As a result, the BAA changed its registration process and qualification standards. At the end of 2010, after serving as executive director for a decade, Morse was named the BAA’s first senior director of external affairs.

Morse has dealt with health challenges, including a prostate cancer diagnosis in 2007. Upon news of his move from executive director to senior director of external affairs, Morse said that after the cancer scare he started to reassess what he wanted to do with his life. He now will look at new opportunities, including those in sports and entertainment and with nonprofits.

“The BAA brand has never been stronger, and the Boston Marathon has never been more popular or experienced greater demand than it has in recent years,’’ said BAA president Joann E. Flaminio in a release. “Guy’s expertise and leadership have played a key role in that, and the BAA is grateful for his loyalty and commitment which encompasses an entire career.’’

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