Dick Hoyt, who ran 32 Boston Marathons while pushing his son, dies at 80

BOSTON — Russ Hoyt is mourning the loss of his father Dick Hoyt, who died Wednesday morning.

“Some people say things like their father was their hero, and I can say it’s absolutely the truth for me,” said Russ Hoyt.

Dick Hoyt, who competed in 32 Boston Marathons while pushing his son, Rick, in a custom racing chair, has died at the age of 80, according to the Boston Athletic Association. Hoyt died Wednesday morning of heart failure.

Russ Hoyt says most people knew his father for the dozens of races he ran while pushing Russ’ brother Rick in his wheelchair.

Team Hoyt, made up of the father-son duo, began their first of more than 30 Boston Marathons in 1980, quickly becoming fan favorites for their inspirational determination and spirit. The pair’s last race came in 2014.

“He would always say to Rick, ‘You’re the body and I’m the heart’ and it was true,” said Russ Hoyt.

In 2015, the B.A.A. made the elder Hoyt the Grand Marshal of the race, citing, “his impact on the event and Para Athlete community.”

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“Dick Hoyt was one-of-a-kind. We will sincerely miss Dick and are keeping his many family and friends in our thoughts and prayers,” the B.A.A. wrote in a release on his passing.

“He was not only a fan-favorite who inspired thousands, but also a loyal friend and father who took pride in spending quality time with his son, Rick, while running from Hopkinton to Boston.”

Russ Hoyt says his dad also pushed him and his other brother Rob to be the best they could be.

He says he was more than an athlete - he was an incredible father.

“This father taught us about inclusion, taught us about how you can overcome rejection, that there’s always another path,” said Dave McGillivray, race director for the Boston Marathon.

McGillivray is one of several people who stopped to pay their respects at the Team Hoyt statue in Hopkinton, near the starting line of the Boston Marathon.

He says as a race director he knew the Hoyt family well and even pushed Rick in a few races himself.

“It’s all about a greater purpose, doing it for another reason,” said McGillivray.

That’s a big lesson many will take away from Dick Hoyt after watching him run the Boston Marathon with his son 32 times.

Hoyt also competed in the Ironman Triathlon six times with Rick.

Plus, they biked together more than 3,000 miles across the country.

“Losing Dick, you know is a big chunk of the Boston Marathon, he was there forever,” said Bill Rodgers, who won the Boston Marathon three times. “He’s hard to describe because he was such a Superman, such a super athlete, but at the same time he had such a heart.”

Hoyt says while he’s sad to lose his dad, he knows his legacy will live on to inspire so many others.

“The fact that there are Team Hoyt chapters being developed around the country in different states and in other countries around the world just shows the impact they had,” said Russ Hoyt. “And the way that he believed in Rick’s ability to do anything that anyone else could do has started to just blossom around the world.”

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