Rick Hoyt: Triathlon Icon and Disabilities Trailblazer Dies at 61

Rick Hoyt, who finished the Boston Marathon 36 times using his wheelchair and became an icon of the world-famous race, has died at the age of 61.

Over three decades, Rick and Dick Hoyt paved the way for the countless push-assist teams around the world who participate in endurance sports today. Dick Hoyt passed away in 2021.

In 2020, the Hoyts were inducted into the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame, becoming the first push-assist team to be inducted, and Rick the first inductee with a disability.

Born with cerebral palsy and quadriplegia, Rick Hoyt participated in his first race in 1977, a 5-mile benefit run, with his father pushing him in his wheelchair the entire race.

After the race, Rick Hoyt told his father, “Dad, when I’m running, it feels like I’m not handicapped.”

For decades, the father-son team completed more than 1,000 triathlons, marathons and other endurance events together. In 1989, Team Hoyt became the first duo ever to complete the IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona, and the famous pair repeated the feat in 1999.

A statement issued by the Hoyt Foundation announcing his death said he died due to complications with his respiratory system.

“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 foundation said in the statement.

The father and son duo competed in their first race in the 1970s after Hoyt told his father he wanted to be part of a five-mile benefit run for a lacrosse player who had been paralyzed in an accident.

Millions over the years have drawn inspiration from seeing them compete.  In 2013, a statue of the Hoyts was erected near the start of the Boston Marathon.

The Boston Athletic Association, which gives out an award every year named for the Hoyts, released a statement praising their legacy.

“Rick Hoyt will always be remembered as a Boston Marathon icon and for personifying the ‘Yes You Can’ mentality that defined Team Hoyt,” the organization.

For more information, visit https://teamhoyt.com/