Rick Hoyt, a Boston Marathon regular who competed in more than 1,000 road races using a wheelchair pushed by his father, died Monday at an assisted living facility in Leicester, Massachusetts. He was 61 years old.
His family said in a statement that the cause was “complications with his respiratory system.” Hoyt’s father, Dick Hoyt, died in March 2021 at age 80.
“When my dad and I go for a run, a special bond forms between us,” said Rick Hoyt. The New York Times in 2009.
The couple competed in the Boston Marathon nearly every year from 1980 to 2014. In 2013, Dick and Rick Hoyt were honored with a bronze statue near the start line of the race.
They completed more than 1,100 races together, including marathons, triathlons, and duathlons, a mix of cycling and running.
“I ran for Rick, who longed to be an athlete but had no way to pursue his passion,” Dick Hoyt wrote in his 2010 book, “Devoted: The Story of a Father’s Love for His Son,” written with Don Yaeger and published in 2010. “I wasn’t running for my own pleasure. I was just lending my arms and legs to my son.”
Richard Eugene Hoyt Jr. was born in Winchester, Massachusetts, near Boston, to Dick and Judith Hoyt on January 10, 1962. He had cerebral palsy and was unable to move his limbs or speak. In 1972, he began using a specialized computer to help him communicate. His first words: “Go Bruins.”
Rick Hoyt’s first exposure to road racing came in 1977, when he asked to participate in a charity race to benefit a lacrosse player who was paralyzed. He wanted to show the athlete that he, a quadriplegic teenager, was still active despite the challenges he faced.
Dick Hoyt, 37 at the time, had not been an endurance athlete and had not aspired to run marathons. But he agreed to run the race with his son, and they finished second to last in the five-mile course.
The Hoyts worked their way out to finish many races in impressive times. They completed the 1992 Marine Corps Marathon in 2 hours, 40 minutes, and 47 seconds, and in 2000 finished a full Ironman (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2-mile run) in 13:43. :37.
They expected their 2013 Boston Marathon to be their last run from Hopkinton to Boston Common. But they stopped around mile 25 due to shelling at the finish line.
However, the Hoyts vowed to return, running their last Boston Marathon in 2014. They were slower than expected, Dick Hoyt said, mainly because they took the time to chat and hug fans and children in wheelchairs.
“Dick and Rick Hoyt have inspired millions of people around the world,” said Dave McGillivray, former Boston Marathon Race Director, adding: “Rick, we will always be grateful for your courage, determination, tenacity and willingness to give. of himself so that others can also believe in themselves.
Hoyt graduated from Boston University with a degree in special education in 1993. He is survived by his brothers, Russ and Rob. His mother, a longtime advocate for children with disabilities, died in 2010. His father served in the Army National Guard and Air National Guard for 37 years and later became an inspirational speaker, sharing the story of his racing with your son.
Rick Hoyt was working with McGillivray and Russell Hoyt on a race scheduled for this Saturday in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, the Dick Hoyt Memorial “Yes You Can” Run Together. The family has decided to hold the race as planned.
“I have a list of things I would do for you if I weren’t disabled,” Rick Hoyt wrote to his father in the finale of “Devoted.”
“The best thing on that list: I would do my best to compete in the Ironman World Championship by pulling, pushing and pedaling. Then I’d push you in the Boston marathon.”