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BOSTON MARATHON

Dick Hoyt, longtime Boston Marathon runner who pushed son Rick for decades, dies at 80

Dick Hoyt with his son, Rick Hoyt and Team Hoyt crossing the finish line of the 118th Boston Marathon on April  21, 2014.
Dick Hoyt with his son, Rick Hoyt and Team Hoyt crossing the finish line of the 118th Boston Marathon on April 21, 2014.Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

Read more: Dick Hoyt, ‘heart and soul of the Boston Marathon,’ dies at 80

Dick Hoyt, a longtime symbol of the Boston Marathon who ran the race with his son, Rick, for decades, has died. He was 80.

Hoyt, who had been battling health issues, died Wednesday, the Boston Athletic Association said. Hoyt and his son participated in their 32nd and final Marathon as a team in 2014. He was named grand marshal of the event in 2015.

“The B.A.A. is tremendously saddened to learn of the passing of Boston Marathon icon Dick Hoyt,” a statement posted to the association’s website said. “Dick personified what it meant to a be a Boston Marathoner, showing determination, passion, and love every Patriots’ Day for more than three decades.”

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Dick passed away quietly in his sleep at his Holland, Massachusetts, home on Wednesday morning, 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.

Russ and his other brother, Rob, broke the news to Rick.

“He’s sad, as we all are, but he’s OK,” Russ said. “You could see it in him, it was like someone hit him.”

Rick Hoyt was born a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy and cannot walk or talk. The father-son team participated in more than 1,000 road races, marathons, and triathlons over the years.

That 1,000 includes 32 Boston Marathons, a stretch that ended in 2014 when Dick Hoyt was 73 and Rick Hoyt was 52.

The Hoyts intended to run their final marathon in 2013, but were among the more than 5,000 stopped before completion of the race after the bombings at the finish line.

They finished the 2014 race in 7:37:33, often delayed by the legions of well-wishers along the course who stopped them to celebrate their achievement.

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“It wasn’t tough out there,” Dick Hoyt said at the time, “but we made it a little tougher because of all our fans out there, it was just unbelievable crowds out there.”

The Hoyts eventually crossed the finish line in the evening with more than 20 members of Team Hoyt by their side.

Ahead of the 2013 race, Dick and Rick Hoyt were honored with a bronze statue in Hopkinton, seconds away from the marathon starting line.

“I had tears in my eyes,” Dick Hoyt said of the ceremony at the time. “To see after all these years of us running and competing. Who ever thought we would have a bronze statue made of us?

“It [doesn’t] get any better than that. To us this is the Stanley Cup, this is the World Series.”

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh called Dick Hoyt a Boston Marathon legend in a tweet offering his condolences to the Hoyt family.

“Dick epitomized what it means to be Boston Strong and inspired so many along the way,” Walsh wrote. “Boston will always miss you. Rest In Peace, my friend.”

Former Bruins player Andrew Ference, who volunteered at the finish line of the race in 2014, wrote on Twitter that he felt “so fortunate to have spent some time around him and his son, Rick” while offering his love to the family.

Karen Spilka, the state Senate President whose district covers a number of towns on the Marathon route, shared on Twitter that it was “hard not to be inspired by the love” Dick Hoyt had for his son.

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“A local legend if there ever was one,” she wrote. “Thinking of his family and friends today.”

After Dick Hoyt stepped away from running the race with his son due to an increasingly aching back, Team Hoyt member Brian Lyons took up the mantle so Rick could continue to participate. Lyons died last June.

Material from previous Globe reporting and the Associated Press was used in this story.


Christina Prignano can be reached at christina.prignano@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @cprignano. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe. Katie McInerney can be reached at katie.mcinerney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @k8tmac.