The marathon of parental love

Dick and Rick Hoyt, in the 2013 Boston Marathon.

If the true meaning of the marathon consists in a sincere dialogue with one’s own limits, with pain and agony to find a meaning in life, it could well be said that no one has come so far in the search, and in the discovery that in In reality there are no limits in the marathon, suffering and life, like Rick Hoyt, who was born with cerebral palsy, quadriplegic and unable to speak 59 years ago in Massachusetts (United States) and has completed 32 times, between 1980 and 2014, the Boston Marathon. He disputed it in a wheelchair pushed by his father, Dick, who died this past week at the age of 80. A bronze statue, erected in 2013 next to the exit street of the Bostonian test, and with a Yes, you can (yes, you can) engraved on a plaque, honors the feats of a duo that, as Rick told in the New York Times A few years ago, he became a special unit when they went for a run. “When my father and I run, a unique bond is formed between us,” said the son; “And I feel then that there is nothing that my father and I cannot do.”

Although his family had managed to interpret primarily the noises that Rick made, his gestures and his smiles, everything changed in 1972, when he was 10 years old and engineers from Tufts University, near Boston, designed a computer through which Rick could speak. choosing letters with blows of his head. His first words were go bruins [un grito de ánimo a los Boston Bruins, el equipo de hockey hielo de la capital de Massachusetts], and that’s how we realized how much he liked sports ”, explains the father in the book, published in 2010, Devotion: the story of a father’s love for his son. And with the communication aid of the computer, Rick studied at Boston University and graduated in Special Education.

Dick Hoyt, born in 1940, was captain of the football team of his institute and married at the age of 21, just after graduating, with the captain of the cheerleaders of the team, his girlfriend since high school. Then he enlisted for 37 years in the National Guard. He had never run in his life before 1977, when he was 37 years old and Rick asked him to participate in a five-mile race together, and with the father pushing the boy’s chair they were able to finish both. They were the penultimate. It was the beginning of a routine of more than 1,000 races in almost 40 years, in whose menu there were not only marathons, although it was their specialty and in which they were so good that in 1992 they managed to finish the Marines marathon in Washington in a while Extraordinary time of 2h 40m 47s, the best time of all the participants in the 50-59 age category. And they also competed in triathlons and seven ironmen, in which in the swimming test the father pushed a little boat in which the son was riding and in the cycling test they shared a tandem. His best time in a Hombre de Hierro (3.86 kilometers of swimming, 180 of cycling and a marathon of 42.195 kilometers running on foot) was 13h 43m 37s.

Although the first years they could not officially register and receive a number, since the organizers did not know in which category to place them, their emblematic and preferred event was the Boston Marathon, the oldest in the world and a symbol of the city, as painfully they could. check in 2013, when two bombs exploded at the finish line. The organizers stopped them and could not finish it. They had planned that it would be their last marathon together, but they returned in 2014 to finish for good.

When his father retired, Rick found a replacement in a dentist friend, but he died in June at age 50 and has left the quadriplegic marathoner, also motherless, in the only company of his two brothers and his eight uncles, brothers. dad. Few doubt that he will soon find a new companion, or companion, to guide him in his never-ending search and learn by his side.

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