By Kathy Boyer/Todd Civin
True friends are like running chairs. They are always there when you need them and ready to get dusted off and asked to travel 26.2 miles with you at a moments notice.
Or something like that.
Dick and Rick (Team Hoyt) have been having a lot of trouble the last few years with their running chair. The chair that carried them through the most recent portion of their thousand, plus running events.
According to the calendar, Dick, like all of us, is getting older as he will be turning 70 on June 1. Rick is not only getting older (48), but is also, like all of us, putting on a bit of weight. Rick tips the scales at 148 pounds right now, while he was only 115 pounds as recently as two years ago. Rick is also having trouble with his back, the result of sitting in the running chair for long periods of time over the years, while Dick is having trouble with his breathing when running, coupled with some pain in his quads and legs.
While sitting in the running chair that Rick has been using for many years, his feet are tucked under him as he sits during race events. He has been quite uncomfortable for over a year now and Dick has been talking with engineers and others trying to get a new chair built for Rick. To this point they have not had much luck.
A few months back, however, Dick was at a corporate event where he was the motivational speaker. A video came on the screen showing Dick and Rick competing in the 1989 Ironman triathlon in Hawaii. Like the re-emergence of an old friend, Dick said to himself “Hey, that is our old chair. Maybe that would work for Rick."
He noticed that Rick's legs were straight in front of him and not tucked underneath the chair and suspected that he would be more comfortable and his back would not hurt.
The only problem is – the chair that they used in the 1989 Ironman triathlon in Hawaii had been retired and had been in the New England Sports Museum since about 1994.
The chair, which was built around 1987, had been used by the famed father/son marathon team in many road races and triathlons, including the 1987 Marine Corp Marathon in Washington D.C., their first Ironman triathlon in Penticton, B.C. Canada in 1988, and their first Ironman triathlon in Hawaii in 1989.
When Team Hoyt first started doing race events in the late 1970’s, Dick had a running chair built for Rick, but after using it for several years, Rick got older and heavier and outgrew it.
Around 1986, when Rick was visiting an orthopedic specialist in Springfield, MA, Dick mentioned to the doctor that he and Rick were doing race events and triathlons and that Rick was not comfortable in his running chair. The orthopedic specialist said that he and another friend (also an orthopedic doctor) would take a look at their current design and see if they could come up with an improved design that would make Rick more comfortable for longer periods of time.
The two doctors designed the seat, and another person designed the frame. Dick and Rick used this chair from about 1987 until about 1992. It was put in the New England Sports Museum around 1994, and was on display for all to see as part of the Museum's rotating displays.
After Dick remembered the old chair, he contacted the museum a few months ago and explained his dilemma. He drove into Boston to pick up the old running chair, which had several years worth of dust on it and needed a little TLC and duct tape.
Dick and Rick used the "new" chair in a few half marathons in February and March, and felt that it brought back a bit of nostalgia while using it. They thought of the days, long ago when they used this chair and all the races he and Rick have done since retiring "their old friend" back in 1992.
Dick also quickly realized how long and heavy and very difficult for him to push the chair is. Of course, Dick is now 18 years older and Rick is now 30-35 lbs heavier to boot.
The chair is also wider than their last chair and the handlebars are in a different position, which is making it difficult for Dick to adjust his running and rhythm while pushing.
The chair is being worked on as the Team prepares for their 28th Boston Marathon on April 19. They'd like to get it back in time to do some training for the big event and hope that Rick is more comfortable as they travel that familiar route from Hopkinton to Boston with their old familiar friend.
Pre-order Team Hoyt's new book, "Devoted"
Dick Hoyt's new book, "Devoted", with famed-author, Don Yaeger, will be available for shipping on April 21st by visiting the Team Hoyt website.
"Devoted" is the true to life story of the world-renowned Father and son triathlon team, Dick and Rick Hoyt. Known throughout the world, as Team Hoyt, they exemplify the unconditional love of a father and a son.
The story, told through the eyes, voice and feelings of Dick Hoyt, shares in detail the events, which created their inseparable bond and resulted in their "Yes, You Can" true to life mission statement. From the moment Rick was born to the exhaling of his very next breath, the book shares the stories which capture the essence of what each of them remain today, Team Hoyt.
The book is available for $28, which includes S/H by Media Mail® or for $30 by Priority Mail®. Send a check to Dick Hoyt, 241 Mashapaug Road, Holland, MA 01521 or add $3 for CC purchase or PayPal process fee. If paying by CC, please fax your order to 413-245-9554 or call 413-245-9466 between 10 AM and 6 PM EST.
Visit the Team Hoyt website at http://teamhoyt.com/store/index.html for details.
Kathy Boyer is the office manager, publicist, and friend of Team Hoyt. She will share the stories of Team Hoyt from time to time. For more information on Team Hoyt, visit www.teamhoyt.com.