Mar. 17—Dick Hoyt, whose story and commitment to running with his son inspired countless runners and non-runners far beyond his native Massachusetts, died this morning. He was 80 years old.
Hoyt made a name for himself and family as part of the Dick and Rick Hoyt tandem that ran the Boston Marathon and later was a mainstay at the Feaster Five Road Race every Thanksgiving morning in Andover.
"This is very sad news," said Dave McGillivray, long-time race director for the Boston Marathon and Feaster Five, and a close friend of Hoyt's. "Devastating. Dick was invincible."
Hoyt, who grew up in North Reading, began pushing his son Ricky, who had cerebral palsy, in 1977. Rick, 59, had asked his dad about running a race together, via wheelchair.
They would go on to become world travelers, competing together in marathons (72) and triathlons (257).
"Rick is my hero," Dick Hoyt said at a Feaster Five Road Race. "Whenever I am struggling, and trust me that happens a lot, I just look over at Rick and see his smile. The pain eventually goes away."
The Hoyts were recipients of ESPN's Jimmy V Award for inspiration and perseverance.
Dick Hoyt retired as a full-time racer with Rick in 2014 when a Methuen man, Brian Lyons, took over the lead role.
Lyons has since passed away.