A marathon like no other — to be run inside Fenway Park
Over its 105-year history, Fenway Park has seen a bevy of sporting events other than baseball take place in the shadow of the Green Monster. Hockey and football games, soccer and Irish hurling matches, even a skiing and snowboarding event have been held at the park.
But for the first time, a marathon will be run inside its confines this year.
It will be a first not only for Fenway but for any professional sports team’s stadium. The race, scheduled for Sept. 15 (while the Red Sox are in Tampa), is being managed by DMSE Sports and will benefit the Red Sox Charitable Foundation. Dave McGillivray, race director for the Boston Marathon, is the organizer.
The Fenway Marathon will be USATF-certified, and a trial run will be held in the summer to measure the route. A marathon will require approximately 112 laps around the warning track.
This won’t be the first marathon McGillivray has organized in a confined place. In 1986, he and a group of inmates at Walpole State Prison ran a marathon by circling the jail yard 55 times.
McGillivray first approached the Red Sox about the concept in 2004. The team was interested but put the idea on hold.
“The timing wasn’t right then,” said McGillivray. “The timing is perfect now that putting on special events inside Fenway has become more commonplace.”
For more than 30 years, McGillivray has been the last person to finish the Boston Marathon, running the course long after the last runner has left Hopkinton. For the Fenway Marathon, he will run with the rest of the field, which will be limited to 50 participants.
“It’s going to be a unique experience running with everyone else,” said McGillivray. “It will be interesting to pass others and be passed and really get to know each other intimately.
“The race is limited to 50 to see how it goes, and next year we will try to expand it.”
Registration is on a first-come-first-serve basis, and as of now, the field is half-full. There is no registration fee, but runners are required to raise a minimum of $5,000 to benefit the Red Sox Foundation.
Runners interested in registering should visit the foundation website (redsoxfoundation.org/marathon).
“It’s not about setting a personal best, it’s about the experience,” said McGillivray. “It’s more for people who have a fascination for doing something out of the ordinary, combined with a passion for the Red Sox.
“I’m challenged by unique ideas. This is an opportunity to experience something different. As a Red Sox fan, it will be unique to run and then sit in the stands at a game and say, ‘I just ran at Fenway Park.’ That’s when the reality will really hit.”
Like many children in the Boston area, McGillivray grew up dreaming of playing for the Red Sox. But given his small stature, his baseball dreams soon faded. To stay active, he began running. On Aug. 29, 1978, McGillivray finished a cross-country run from Medford, Ore., to Medford, Mass., to benefit the Jimmy Fund by running into Fenway Park before a game.
“I had fulfilled my dream,” said McGillivray. “It was a neat idea I wanted to expand upon. I wanted to do something extraordinary.
“It was fascinating to be able to do this. I organized races like this all over the world and always imagined someday doing it in Fenway.”