Dick Hoyt stood at the starting line of the Boston Marathon with his son, Rick, 32 times. Thirty-two times the duo crossed the finish line, following at once their own course and one well-trod by other runners. For 26.2 miles they were both alone and inseparable, sharing a bond both entirely understandable but impossible to truly understand.
It was one of the most beautiful things in sports — and in life — to see Dick, who would age in body but never falter in indomitable spirit, play co-pilot with his son. They were steady and reliable. Rick, a quadriplegic with cerebral palsy, out in front exploring the open road, his father steering into the waters ahead of the next unknown mile.
They didn't always finish first but anyone who shared a marathon or a triathalon knew with absolute certainty that the Hoyts always won. Because to know just by sight the holy bond between father and son. in their battle to make it through this unjust yet unlimited world. To understand, collectively, that there is no greater rush in life than to run the race on your own terms with those who love you at your side.
The Hoyts became ordinary heroes. Beloved for their perseverance and the constant reminder to be better. To try harder. To see life's journey has a finish line but no one way to get there.
They struck one of the most powerful images in all of sports until they shared their final Boston Marathon together in 2014. Those who saw Dick saw the embodiment of doing everything for their kids. They saw the lengths parents will go. The challenges and victories of parenthood and having a parent.
Dick and Rick were pushing each other. Mentally, emotionally, and physically. What a race they ran.
The father's journey ended today. He was 80.
That image of the Hoyts cutting through endless pavement should stay seared in minds and hearts. Because there is nothing better.