Over the years, a variety of world-class athletes have approached Dick Hoyt, the engine behind the famous father-son duo who completed 32 Boston Marathons together, offering to run with Rick, who has cerebral palsy, when Dick’s racing days were done. So it was a shock to Bryan Lyons ’91 when the elder Hoyt approached him last summer and asked him if he would push Rick’s custom wheelchair for this year’s Boston Marathon.
“It was understood that neither would keep doing it without the other, but Rick wants to keep going,” Lyons told the his hometown paper, the Eagle-Tribune, last year. “Even though I had become good friends with them, I was speechless at first. It was an incredible honor.”
Lyons, who has completed more than a dozen marathons and nearly 100 triathlons, joined the Team Hoyt charity team in 2009 and cemented his bond with the pair when he stuck with them through the final eight miles of the 2011 Boston Marathon. To prepare for this year’s race, he trained pushing a chair with sandbags to replicate Rick’s weight, and ran with Rick at a number of local 5Ks. Their first race together, in May 2014, marked the first time in 37 years that anyone other than Dick had pushed his son.
Lyons and Hoyt completed their marathon in four and a half hours, and Lyons says he’s prepared to do it again, if that’s what Rick wants. But he is the first to say he isn’t “replacing” Dick Hoyt.
“I’m merely a fresher set of legs,” he says. “Nobody can replace Dick.”
Originally published in UNH Magazine—Spring/Summer 2015 Issue