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Dick Hoyt (1940–2021), iconic marathoner who ran pushing his son

by Linnea Crowther

Dick Hoyt was a runner who became well known for competing in the Boston Marathon and other races while pushing his son, Rick, in a wheelchair.

Team Hoyt

Rick Hoyt was born a quadriplegic with cerebral palsy, unable to speak or walk. But when he was a boy, his parents had a computer developed for him that allowed him to communicate by tapping letters with his head. At 15, in 1977, he asked his father to help him participate in a benefit run for a classmate who had become paralyzed. Hoyt wasn’t a runner, but he ran the race with his son and both discovered a hobby that would become a passion. Hoyt trained while his son was in school by running with a bag of cement in the wheelchair, and they ran their first Boston Marathon in 1980.

Dick and Rick Hoyt (Elsa/Getty Images)

Team Hoyt became a beloved fixture of the Boston Marathon, running the race almost every year until 2014. In 2013, a bronze status of the Hoyts was erected near the Boston Marathon’s starting line, including a plaque that reads, “Yes You Can!” They also participated in triathlons, including the Ironman – Hoyts would pull his son in a boat during the swimming portion, and he had a special seat for him on his bicycle. The two ran more than 1000 races, together, and they were inducted into the Ironman Hall of Fame and honored with ESPN’s Jimmy V Award for Perseverance.

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Hoyt was a veteran of the Army National Guard and Air Force National Guard. He wrote the 2010 book “Devoted: The Story of a Father’s Love for His Son” and was a popular inspirational speaker.

Notable quote

“I got a motivator, and that’s my son. He’s the one that motivates me and inspires me. With him being out there, we’ve never had the thoughts or any ideas of giving up and quitting any races that we’ve been involved in. It’s just amazing.” —from a 2013 interview with Stride Nation

Tributes to Dick Hoyt

Full obituary: The Boston Globe

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