BOSTON — Boston Marathon legend Dick Hoyt, who competed in 32 races while pushing his son in a custom racing chair, died of heart failure Wednesday, the Boston Athletic Association announced. He was 80.
Hoyt died quietly in his sleep at his Holland, Massachusetts, home, Russ Hoyt, another of his sons, told The Associated Press.
“He had an ongoing heart condition that he had been struggling with for years and it just got the better of him,” Russ Hoyt said.
Dick Hoyt ran the Boston Marathon annually with his son, Rick, who is quadriplegic and has cerebral palsy, Sports Illustrated reported. The duo last competed in the 26.2-mile marathon race in 2014, the magazine reported.
“We are tremendously saddened to learn of the passing of Boston Marathon icon Dick Hoyt,” the Boston Athletic Association said in a statement. “Dick personified what it meant to a be a Boston Marathoner, showing determination, passion, and love every Patriots’ Day for more than three decades.”
Russ Hoyt and his other brother, Rob, broke the news to Rick.
“He’s sad, as we all are, but he’s OK,” Russ Hoyt told the AP. “You could see it in him, it was like someone hit him.”
Team Hoyt, made up of the father-son duo, began their first race in 1980, WFXT reported. In 2015 the Boston Athletic Association made Dick Hoyt the grand marshal of the race, citing “his impact on the event and Para Athlete community,” the television station reported.
Dick Hoyt planned to retire after the 2013 race, but they never finished the race because of the bombing at the finish line, the AP reported. They returned one more time in 2014.
“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 Boston Athletic Association wrote in its news release. “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.”
Dick Hoyt participated in 72 marathons and 257 triathlons alongside his son, Sports Illustrated reported. Their best time was 2 hours, 40 minutes in 1992, the magazine reported.
“No question about it,” Rick Hoyt told Sports Illustrated in 2005. “My dad is the father of the century.”