There may be no “I” in team, but there can sure be a lot of personal enjoyment and satisfaction.
Just ask Methuen’s Bryan Lyons, who is a proud member of Team Hoyt and will get what he believes will be the ultimate honor at next year’s Boston Marathon.
Team Hoyt, of course, is the organization that revolves around Dick and Rick Hoyt and, like in the case of Dick pushing Rick who has cerebral palsy in road races leading up to marathons and even triathlons, pairs healthy runners/pushers with those limited to wheelchairs.
The goal of Team Hoyt is to show physically disabled people that they can still become active members of the community.
Since 1977, the Hoyts have competed in over 1,100 endurance events including 72 marathons and six ironman triathlons. They’ve run the Boston Marathon 32 times.
Lyons, who has competed in 13 marathons and nearly 100 triathlons, joined the Team Hoyt charity team in 2009 and considers his proudest competitive moment the 2011 Boston Marathon, when he ran the final eight miles with Dick and Rick, who were having a tough day.
Plagued by a number of ailments and now 74-years-old, Dick announced that the 2014 Boston Marathon would be the final one for Team Hoyt. Rick, 52, took exception with that, however, and wanted to continue.
That’s where Lyons comes in.
“It was understood that neither would keep doing it without the other, but Rick wants to keep going, so they asked me if I’d push him in next year’s Boston Marathon,” said Lyons. “Even though I had become good friends with them, I was speechless at first. It was an incredible honor.
“Dick has been approached in the past by world class athletes offering to push Rick and they always turned them down. Knowing that, to be offered this opportunity is just unbelievable.”
Since then, Lyons has pushed Rick in three 5K races. The first one in Oxford back in May marked the first time in 37 years that anyone besides Dick had been paired with Rick.
Since then, Lyons and Rick have been paired in two other Team Hoyt New England races, which helps spread the word about the organization’s efforts to pair runners with people limited to wheelchairs.
At the same time, Lyons has continued with his own fitness goals. He’ll be running in his eighth New York City Triathlon (1-mile swim, 25-mile bike ride, 10K run) this week and he’s preparing to run in the Florida Ironman this fall.
Wherever he competes, he wears a photo of Dick and Rick on his race belt, promoting the cause.
“Anything to promote Team Hoyt I’ll do,” said Lyons, a dentist who practices in Billerica. “I get a lot of people who see the photo and ask me about it.”
Never far from his mind, however, is next year’s Boston Marathon. He’ll compete with Rick in another race, the Butterfly 5K in North Attleboro Aug. 24, and a great deal of his training focuses on next April.
“Just like Dick, I go for runs pushing the chair with sand bags (in the chair) so that it’s closer to the weight I’ll be pushing with Rick,” said Lyons. “I’ve gotten some stares doing that but also a lot of people asking me about it.
“I have a lot of goals but my primary goal is to be ready for Boston.”
As to how Lyons thinks he’ll fare as a pusher/runner next April, he said: “It’s going to be a major challenge but I’m confident it will be a good day. If Rick is smiling at the end, then everything else is unimportant.”
And what if it’s such a good day that Rick wants to continue doing the Boston Marathon for years to come?
“If Rick wants me to run in 2016 and beyond, I don’t foresee why not,” said Lyons.
As of April of this year, Dick and Rick Hoyt had competed in:
— 1,108 endurance races, including ...
— 72 marathons
— 32 Boston Marathons
— Six ironman triathlons
The Bryan Lyons file
Profession: Dentist, practices in Billerica
Races: Has competed in more than 13 marathons, including the last six Boston Marathons, and countless shorter races
Triathlons: Has competed in nearly 100 triathlons including the Arizona Ironman and Florida Ironman
Miscellaneous: Has competed in several 100-mile bike races