Iconic Boston Marathon runner Dick Hoyt died Wednesday at the age of 80. Hoyt, a fixture in the race for decades, died in his sleep after dealing with a series of health issues, his family said.
Hoyt first ran the Boston Marathon in 1980 while pushing his son, Rick, in a wheelchair. Rich was born a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy, CBS Boston reports.
The two began racing in marathons across the country in 1977. Hoyt retired from the Boston Marathon in 2014 but his son continued to participate with the help of Bryan Lyons, who replaced Hoyt in 2015.
Lyons died suddenly last year, however.
Hoyt participated in 72 marathons and 257 triathlons over the course of his lifetime.
Tributes began pouring in soon after word of his passing came out. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said he was “deeply saddened” at the loss while Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker praised Hoyt for being an “iconic part of the Boston Marathon for decades.”
The Boston Athletic Association issued a statement calling Hoyt “one-of-a-kind.” He was remembered fondly by Boston Marathon Race Director Dave McGillivray, a longtime friend.
“I don’t look at many people on this planet quite this way, but I always had this impression that Dick and Rick Hoyt were invincible. That nothing was going to take them down, and they showed that for the last 40 years,” McGillivray told CBS Boston.
Hoyt is survived by three sons, one of whom spoke with CBS Boston about how his father inspired him throughout his life.
“My father would say all the time. ‘Rick’s the heart and I’m the body.’ And it was just true. He did what he did because Rick inspired him to do it,” Russ Hoyt told CBS Boston. “To be able to say that your dad is your hero …he is.”