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The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Team Hoyt cycles, runs, and cheers to honor 10th anniversary of last marathon finish for late Rick and Dick Hoyt

Nick Peace
Riley Pathman awaits the start of the 2024 Boston Marathon with his dad, Jim Pathman, at the Hopkinton Town Common start line (Nick Peace for the Beacon)

Today’s 128th Boston Marathon was marked by many important milestones. On its most tender note, the race commemorated the 10th anniversary since the legendary late Massachusetts racing duo Rick and Dick Hoyt, or Team Hoyt, completed their last Boston Marathon together. 

Son Rick, who was born with cerebral palsy, and his runner father Dick, were a fixture of the race, running 32 Boston marathons and over 1,000 other races together. They competed in duo races, a special form of wheelchair racing where a runner will push a non-ambulatory person in a customized racing wheelchair. Dick retired from the sport in 2014 and passed away in 2021, followed by Rick in 2023. 

The Hoyt Foundation, a nonprofit started by the family in 1989, has become one of the most recognizable organizations at the marathon for its fundraising running team. Team Hoyt brings runners to Boston every year in to raise money for the foundation and its causes of building character, inclusion, self-confidence, and self-esteem for America’s young people with disabilities. This year, Team Hoyt boasted two dozen charity runners running in support of the cause, along with dozens of volunteers and other athletes who used the marathon day to honor Rick and Dick and carry on their message. 

Tania Zamora (middle), and other Team Hoyt members and volunteers pass out pickles and pickle juice shots at the Team Hoyt Heartbreak Hill aid station. (Emma Siebold/Beacon Staff)

One of the most notable and peculiar parts of their efforts is the Team Hoyt aid station around Heartbreak Hill between miles 20 and 21 of the marathon. It distributes pickles and pickle juice shots to the runners as they crest one of the course’s most difficult stretches. Pickle juice contains electrolytes through large quantities of sodium, potassium, and magnesium, making them a natural substitute for other rehydration beverages.

“We’ve had our aid station since around 2012 or 2014 and started calling it ‘The Pickle Station’ in 2015,” explained Tania Zamora, a member of Team Hoyt San Diego Chapter who helped at the aid table on Monday.

The aid station is populated by about half a dozen volunteers and Hoyt team members decked out in pickle-themed merchandise. One volunteer even donned a full-body pickle costume and a bullhorn to spur athletes toward the station’s refreshments.

“Pickles help with cramping, [and] by the time the runners come up the hill they need the salt,” said Zamora. “We go through around 3,800 pickles during the race.” 

In their athletic endeavors, Team Hoyt also platforms para-athletes and competitors who may have disabilities, like Morrie Ripley, a Team Hoyt runner from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. 

“Team Hoyt helps support runners with disabilities, and I myself have one, so they were [a great team to run for],” Ripley said.

He has a spinal cord disability resulting from a car collision with a moose in September 1999 that fractured several of his vertebrae. After qualifying for the Boston Marathon at the Calgary Marathon in Canada last year, Ripley readied himself on the big day by stretching and chatting with other runners outside the athlete tents at the Hopkinton starting line. For him, the race is all about having fun and a good time.

“Just [getting to the] finish line is a good finish line,” Ripley said. “[I’m just here to] take it all in, man. It’s not a race; it’s an experience.” 

Speaking on the race conditions, Ripley said. “If it stay[s] cloudy … the whole time, it would be awesome.” He finished the marathon in 5 hours and 30 minutes amid temperatures that were the warmest for any marathon day since 2017.

Team Hoyt cycles
Morrie Ripley, a Team Hoyt runner (left) with a spinal cord disability, approaches the halfway mark of the race in Wellesley Center. (Nick Peace for the Beacon)

Jim Pathman is the vice president of Team Hoyt San Diego, who came to Boston with his son Riley, a Team Hoyt athlete and the current world record holder in duo racing who broke the Guinness World Record for the fastest duo marathon along with his racing partner Sean McQuaid at the Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, MN in 2023. 

25-year-old Riley was born with cerebral palsy along with his twin brother Shane. With both their parents living an active lifestyle, however, it wasn’t long until Riley and Shane began their own athletic careers. 

“At one point, I took them to an event, and they said, ‘Oh, why don’t we do a swim bike run?’” Jim explained. “That was when they were four years old.”

Riley has especially shined as a duo racer and has been racing for Team Hoyt for many years, a partnership that Jim said allowed the family to realize its dream of racing together.

“We found our way to the Hoyts, and the Hoyts kind of showed the way for us to be able to do this as a family,” Pathman said.

Today’s race is Riley’s 32nd marathon and the next chapter in a racing history that has spanned New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, London, and now, for the first time, Boston. Prevented from entering the Boston competition until he turned 18 and sidelined by COVID-19, racing the Boston Marathon has been a long-time dream for Riley.

“He’s finally here … He’s done a lot of races, and this is his first full Boston, so this is a big deal for him,” Jim explained.

McQuaid and Riley’s race day goal is to hit a time of three hours and thirty minutes and “for Riley to enjoy the course,” Jim said. McQuaid met the Pathmans in a race in San Diego eight years ago and has become a part of their team, and Team Hoyt ever since. The pair finished the marathon in a time of 3 hours and 59 minutes. 

Jim described the duo racing community as “amazing” and “positive,” emphasizing that this kind of race and the Hoyt Foundation’s cause are all about inspiring.

“We [all] want to be out here because somebody in [our] famil[ies] has some disability, and we want to show them that it’s a possibility to get out there and do things like this,” Pathman said. “Really, [Riley’s] the heart of the team, and we’re the legs.”

Beacon staff Emma Siebold and Sam Shipman contributed to this report.

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About the Contributor
Bryan Hecht
Bryan Hecht, News Co-Editor
Bryan Hecht (he/him) is a freshman journalism major from Havertown, Pennsylvania. He currently serves as an assistant editor of The Berkeley Beacon News section. Bryan also contributes to WEBN Political Pulse and hopes one day to work in broadcast news media. As a member of the Emerson Cross Country team, Bryan can likely be found on a run around the Boston area when he's not writing for the Beacon.

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