Boston Marathon

Dave McGillivray and his team got Marathon off to great start

HOPKINTON — When the sun rose on Hopkinton Town Common Monday morning, workers already were swarming across the green in preparation for the start of the Boston Marathon. Officials directed orange-jacketed volunteers, who moved barriers alongside the road and set up bags to collect runners’ extra clothes. Later, the volunteers formed a line across the road to hold the runners in check until the starting gun.

Overseeing everybody was race director Dave McGillivray. Projecting both urgency and calm in the dawn hours, McGillivray said everything he could control was under control. The weather was out of his hands.

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“We have the most experienced team on the planet, people who’ve been doing this for 20, 30, 40 years,’’ McGillivray said. “I’m just sort of the conductor.

“They’re the ones who are all the musicians who are making it all work.”

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The day began with a group from the National Guard first off the start line to walk the course. They were followed by the wheelchair racers, making their first non-controlled start since 1988 (they were able to race immediately from the gun).

“We discussed the start with the athletes [Sunday],’’ said McGillivray. “I put it in their hands and that’s what they wanted.”

The chairs raced off without a problem.

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As the wheelchair racers assembled at the start line, it was possible to look over their heads, across a graveyard, and through pine trees to see the elite athletes striding down an adjacent road for their warm-ups. They looked like big cats prowling around their territory.

With the temperature hovering around 46 degrees and light winds, the elite women took off at 9:32 a.m., followed by the elite men at 10, and then four waves of rank-and-file runners.

For two hours they came, shivering in the cold and damp, yet shedding clothes as they approached the start line. Some ran across the line holding up their phones to snap a picture; others ran with a camera on a stick held in front of them (imagine running 26.2 miles staring at your own face).

McGillivray had hoped the rain would hold off until the race was fully underway, and he nearly got his wish. There was some light rain during the first wheelchair start, but it mostly held off until the fourth wave, when runners began their trek to Boston in cold, heavy rain.

Drenched but undaunted: thousands of determined runners cross finish line of 2015 Boston Marathon

The dreary weather scarcely slowed the runners, however, particularly the many who came from northern climes.

Rick McClellan from Ontario, Canada, was running his 11th Boston Marathon.

“I keep coming back because it’s the best marathon,’’ he said. “The people here are so hospitable and it makes a big difference.”

Another Canadian, 46-year-old Stefan DuQuet from Quebec City, was lining up for his third Boston Marathon, and flying the Quebec flag from his cap. He said, however, he was going to give it away to the first nice cheering kid he saw.

DuQuet came with a group of 10 to run, and said training with a group made it “easier to get up on a cold Sunday to go for a long run.’’ Cold, for DuQuet, meant temperatures from 5 to minus-5.

Canadians Janet Mauley and Karen Soos were ebullient as they pranced up and down to stay warm before their third-wave start.

“We’re here to have fun,’’ said Mauley.

“To have a good time and to get a good time,’’ added Soos.

Making sure it was possible for Soos and the other runners to have a good time was State Police Col. Timothy Alben, who was confident in race security.

“Anytime that you bring large numbers of people together in any kind of outdoor venue, especially one that’s stretched out over 26 miles, it’s a difficult thing to try and provide security for,’’ Alben said. “It’s a challenge.

“But we’re confident that we’ve got a great plan. We’ve got a lot of people out there. There’s a lot of things you’ll see and a lot of things you won’t see in terms of that law enforcement presence.

“I think, generally speaking, the plan is about what it was last year, although perhaps not quite as visible as last year.’’

In the last two years, McGillivray said, the Marathon has become more of a spectacle than ever, after the tragedy of the bombings in 2013 and the victory by American Meb Keflezighi in 2014.

“Without a doubt, we’re under a microscope, and everyone watches every move we make and every decision we make,’’ said McGillivray. “It adds a layer of pressure.”

But he added, “I’ve always said, pressure is a privilege.”

Men's top finishers
Time Country
Lelisa Desisa 2:09:17 ETH
Yemane Adhane Tsegay 2:09:48 ETH
Wilson Chebet 2:10:22 KEN
Bernard Kipyego 2:10:47 KEN
Wesley Korir 2:10:49 KEN
Frankline Chepkwony 2:10:52 KEN
Dathan Ritzenhein 2:11:20 USA
Meb Keflezighi 2:12:42 USA
Tadese Tola 2:13:35 ETH
Vitally Shafar 2:13:52 UKR
SOURCE: Boston Athletic Association
Globe Staff

2015 winners

Barbara Matson can be reached at barbara.matson@globe.com
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