Dick Hoyt, who inspired thousands of runners, fathers and disabled athletes by pushing his son, Rick, in a wheelchair in dozens of Boston Marathons and hundreds of other races, has died, a member of the family said Wednesday.
He was 80.
I'm a runner and have been on and off since high-school. I got into it because my father was a runner. Never serious, no events or anything like that. It was just something to do. I drifted away from it and came back in the years since then. An idiotic accident at home wrecked one of my ankles and I was told that impact-stuff like running was basically off the menu for me. At about the same time, I became aware of some middle-aged doughiness so I took up cycling. I loved it and built up to a couple of century rides. Then my wife started running, then we both started cycling together, and then we settled on just running, so that's what we do. The ankle seems to have healed over the years and other than a slight shortening of my stride, the effects are minimal.
We're fortunate to have a beautiful greenway trail system nearby, which lets us run along the local river without having to worry about cars. We've each done a couple of half-marathons and have settled into a nearly-year-round habit. For me, it amounts to 10 miles/week. This seems to be enough to keep the my endorphins going, heart healthy, and weight in check.
I can't say I love 100% of every run while I'm doing it. Some are better than others and I feel like I could go all day. Others are a fight for every step. I always like the way it feels to be done with a run. I say all that to say this: I have, occasionally, wondered what it would be like to complete a full triathlon. I know men my age (I just turned 50) who have done it, so I have a passing familiarity with the training regimen, and that's where it stops for me. I don't have the time, and even if I did, I'm not sure my joints could take it. So I balk at the training.
Dick Hoyt completed 6 full Ironmans, 234 other triathlons, and 67 marathons. Oh and he also ran/biked across the US.
And all of these while pushing and pulling his son Rick, who is quadriplegic and has cerebral palsy. He'd push him on a wheelchair, pull him in a raft for the swim, then sit him on a two-seater bike.
His son, who doctors insisted should be institutionalized - "he'll be a vegetable for life," but who went on to attend public school and graduate from Boston University.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace.