While triathletes remember Dick and Rick Hoyt for their incredible exploits at the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii, the pair were possibly even more revered in the Boston area – they finished the Boston Marathon 32 times. Dick Hoyt passed away in 2021, but the Hoyt family was on hand to celebrate he and Rick’s achievements in Boston as three of Dick’s grandsons competed in the race.
Cam, Troy and Ryan Hoyt did the race as part of Team Hoyt, raising money for the Hoyt Foundation, which was created in 1989 to “build the individual character, self-confidence and self-esteem of America’s disabled young people through inclusion in all facets of daily life.”
Former Boston Bruins star Zeno Chara also competed for Team Hoyt, finishing the race in 3:38:23.
Pushing Rick through a running race
The Hoyt’s incredible story began when Rick was born. At birth the umbilical chord suffocated him for a few minutes, leaving him paralyzed and unable to talk. In 1977, Rick asked his dad to push him through a running race. Within a few years they had completed their first marathon. Then came triathlon events. Then came the Ironman.
They were at the first full-distance race I ever competed at, the Bud Light Endurance triathlon in Cape Cod – organized by Boston Marathon race director Dave McGillivray. I didn’t really see them that day, but I did see them when they came to compete at the Guelph Lake Triathlon in Ontario in 1988 as they were preparing for their first go at the Ironman World Championship. I still remember watching in awe as Dick towed Rick around the swim course in Guelph Lake in a raft, run with him in his arms up the steep hill to transition, then pedal away on that heavy-duty bike before finishing the day by pushing Rick along in a running stroller. They didn’t finish their first attempt in Kona, but a year later I was in Hawaii when they did get across the line. The coverage of their amazing achievement on the Ironman show that year was truly unforgettable.
A decade later they did it all again. They were inducted into the Ironman Hall of Fame for their exploits.
“Dick Hoyt showed the American public what a father will do for his son when he not only refused to institutionalize Rick, but made the decision to include him in his racing and training,” fellow Ironman Hall of Famer and Ironman historian Bob Babbitt wrote in the book “25 Years of the Ironman World Championship.”
Grandsons finish the race
The Hoyt legacy was so strong in Boston that a bronze statue of the two was put up near the start in Hopkinton. The legacy of his grandfather and uncle’s achievements in Boston was hardly lost on Troy, who finished the race in 3:51:07. Cameron (4:27:18) and Ryan (4:20:12) also completed the race.
“When I’m running and I feel like I can’t do it, our motto is ‘Yes, you can!’ and I keep telling myself over and over again, yes, you can,” said Troy. “If my grandfather can push my uncle for 26.2 [miles], I can run that no problem, no excuses.”