Tuesday, September 23, 2014
My Account  | Login
Nashua;42.0;http://forecast.weather.gov/images/wtf/small/nskc.png;2014-09-23 06:18:13
Sunday, June 22, 2014

Lyons will keep Team Hoyt legacy rolling in road races

Bryan Lyons left Nashua for Durham in 1987. He graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 1991 and headed south to Boston, where he eventually graduated from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in 1995. There are other years with significance, good and bad, in his life but nothing can top what is yet to come.

Lyons, a Nashua native who now resides in Methuen, Mass., and has his own dental practice in Billerica, Mass., can’t wait for 2015. Specifically, April 20, 2015. ...

Sign up to continue

Print subscriber?    Sign up for Full Access!

Please sign up for as low as 36 cents per day to continue viewing our website.

Digital subscribers receive

  • Unlimited access to all stories from nashuatelegraph.com on your computer, tablet or smart phone.
  • Access nashuatelegraph.com, view our digital edition or use our Full Access apps.
  • Get more information at nashuatelegraph.com/fullaccess
Sign up or Login

Bryan Lyons left Nashua for Durham in 1987. He graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 1991 and headed south to Boston, where he eventually graduated from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in 1995. There are other years with significance, good and bad, in his life but nothing can top what is yet to come.

Lyons, a Nashua native who now resides in Methuen, Mass., and has his own dental practice in Billerica, Mass., can’t wait for 2015. Specifically, April 20, 2015.

As Massachusetts celebrates Patriot’s Day and the world celebrates the Boston Marathon, the Gate City will cheer on Lyons as he becomes part of a Marathon institution known as Dick and Rick Hoyt.

A member of Team Hoyt since 2009, Lyons found out a couple months before this year’s race that he’ll be taking Dick’s place pushing Rick up Heartbreak Hill.

Lyons still remembers the call he received from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport like it was yesterday.

“It was a February morning,” said Lyons, who will turn 45 on Aug. 27. “It was a snow day at work, so none of my patients were coming in. I was in the office getting some odds and ends done and the phone rings. Dick travels a lot, and he happened to be waiting on a flight in Dallas. He says, ‘Bryan, I’ve been speaking to Rick. We would like you to run with him next year.’”

Caught off guard, Lyons still managed to blurt out yes, and it was official.

“It’s indescribable the feeling I had that day,” Lyons said. “What I’m still feeling. I’m not sure there are words to full express what I’m feeling.

“Selfless acts of love and perseverance. That’s what they represent.”

The story of the Hoyts from Holland, Mass., is well documented. Dick, 74, is the father of 52-year-old Rick, who has cerebral palsy. Doctors told Dick and Judy Hoyt that Rick would never have a normal life and believed institutionalizing him was the best option. They balked at that assessment, and the rest is history.

The road racing began when Rick was 15, after he asked his dad to push him in a 5-mile fundraiser for a paralyzed lacrosse player.

Rick told his father, “Dad, when I’m running it feels like my disability disappears.’’

So Dick never stopped running. Now, some 37 years later, the Hoyts have competed in 1,108 endurance events – including 72 marathons (32 Boston Marathons) and 255 triathlons (six Ironman distances, seven Half-Ironman). In 1992, they also biked and ran 3,735 miles across the United States in 45 days.

The father-son had every intention of making the 2013 Marathon their last, but due to the bombings they were stopped one mile short of completing their run. They came back this year and completed their final Boston run together on April 21.

Amazing considering they started as bandits because the Boston Athletic Association didn’t know how to classify them. When finally allowed to qualify in Rick’s age group, they became part of the landscape from Main Street in Hopkinton to Copley Square in Boston.

Now the legacy continues with Lyons.

“I’m humbled by this honor,” Lyons said. “I confided in a close friend after Dick told me what they wanted. I told my friend I didn’t understand why they would pick me. There were world class athletes and triathletes offering to take over pushing Rick. And they turned them all down for me, a dentist who runs for fun.”

Lyons’ friend responded with a statement that Dick Hoyt admitted was spot on.

“My friend told me: ‘Bryan, don’t you understand? You’re exactly who they want. They don’t want the big name, they want the big heart,’” Lyons said.

Dick Hoyt agrees with Lyons’ friend.

“Bryan is the perfect choice for this situation,” said Hoyt, who will still push his son on smaller runs and triathlons. “He is the heart and soul of Team Hoyt along with Rick.

“I’ve known Bryan for a while now. He’s a friend of the whole family. He’s part of our family. He’s just a great person.

“Me being a father would love to have him as a son.”

Lyons is practically a brother to Rick already.

The two can be found at Rick’s house a few times a month watching movies or sporting events. A few weeks ago, Lyons took Rick into Boston for dinner and the “Blue Man Group” at the Charles Playhouse.

“He’s got a very busy schedule,” Lyons said, “but I do whatever I can to spend as much time with him as possible. I love and cherish every second I spend with Rick.”

Now he gets even more time with him, on the road.

To think none of this almost happened. Lyons has overcome his limitations with some struggles and plenty of rehabilitation along the way.

A soccer player in skier in high school, Lyons didn’t even take up running until living in the city while attending Tufts. He would get out and run to burn off the stress of school and felt relaxed and free from the grind. Lyons ran his first marathon in 2000 and loved it. He expected to run many more. Until he was struck by a drunk driver in 2001.

“It was emotionally and physically draining,” Lyons said. “It took me 11 months to a year to run one mile without back pain. It took me five years to run five miles. It was frustrating. I was averaging 16-18 miles every run before the accident. I was down in the dumps and discouraged about everything.”

A friend told him to consider triathlons, which consists of a short distance run, swimming and cycling. Lyons went along with the idea, and it re-invigorated his passion for running and everything else he was depressed about.

Through the triathlons he connected with a member of Team Hoyt. When Dick was searching for more members to run in the 2009 Boston Marathon, Lyons couldn’t pass up on the chance.

“It was just the catalyst I needed to really get back into the longer runs,” Lyons said.

“I always knew of them. I met Dick and Rick in 1999. They were always an inspiration to me.”