Rick Hoyt, Who Competed in Races Pushed by His Father, Dies at 61

The father-son duo were a fixture of the Boston Marathon, participating most years between 1980 and 2014.

Credit: Getty
Credit: Getty

One of the Boston Marathon’s most beloved recurring athletes, Rick Hoyt, died Monday at the age of 61. Hoyt competed in more than 1,000 races while using a wheelchair that was pushed by his late father, who passed away in March 2021 at 80 years old.

The father-son duo were a fixture of the marathon, participating most years between 1980 and 2014. “When my dad and I are out there on a run, a special bond forms between us,” Hoyt told The New York Times in 2009.

Hoyt died due to complications with his respiratory system, according to a family statement posted on The Hoyt Foundation’s Facebook

page. “As so many knew, Rick along with our father, Dick, were icons in the road race and triathlon worlds for over 40 years and inspired millions of people with disabilities to believe in themselves, set goals and accomplish extraordinary things,” the statement read in part.

Hoyt, who had cerebral palsy and quadriplegia, got his start in racing in 1977 when he told his dad he wanted to be part of a run benefiting a lacrosse player who had been paralyzed in an accident. “We will always be grateful, Rick, for your courage, determination, tenacity and willingness to give yourself so that others, too, could believe in themselves,” former Boston Marathon race director Dave McGillivray told The New York Times.

Hoyt is survived by his two brothers. Both his parents were longtime advocates for children with disabilities before they passed away. Hoyt’s father became an inspirational speaker, bringing his son's story to the public. There is a statue honoring the father and son in Boston, near where the city’s marathon starts each April.