West Cork roads open to all

Posted on: 4th August, 2015

Category: Sport & Fitness

Contributor: West Cork People

Above: l-r Sandra and David Kerr with their son Aaron and Rick and Dick Hoyt, with family friends Bryan Lyons and John Canty, are pictured with MCI runners crossing the line in Courtmacsherry. All photos by Liz Cardoso of Global Click photography.

Saturday, July 25 marked the third year of the Keith Whyte Waterfront Ultra Marathon in Courtmacsherry; with 371 participants, the race was a resounding success. This year, Keith was joined by Boston Race icons Team Hoyt, Ireland’s Team Kerr, ‘Jerry The Legend’ Forde and many more unique runners, walkers and wheelchair participants.


It was a beautiful sunny day with inspiring presentations given by Team Hoyt on both Thursday and Friday evening. The Ultra run, with five race distances, kicked off the festival week in Courtmacsherry on Saturday.

Twenty runners competed in the 100 km race; the winner, Fozzy Forristal of Kerry Crusaders completed the race in a time of 8:31. The female winner was Anne Jennings in a time of 11:22. All 100 km finishers will be listed on a bronze plaque placed in Courtmacsherry village. Keith Whyte sub 4 won the 36 miles in a time of 3:59. This was Keith’s training run, as he is representing Ireland in the 100 km Championships in Holland on September 12. The female winner of the 36 miles was Col Conway sub 5 in a time of 4:54. Killian Deasy of Clonakilty Roadrunners won the 26.2 miles in a time of 3:10; the female winner was Anita Barry, 3:32. Tony Kelleher Togher AC won the 13.1 miles in a time of 1:16; the female winner was Collette O’Donoghue, 1:40. Ronan Wogan from Precision Timing won the 10 k in a time of 35:55; the female winner was Hillary Galway, 44:59. Paul Mulcahy won the 18 mile in a time of 2:19.

A safe, sunny and happy running event was had by all and the organisers Ia and Bob Hilliard, in association with the MCI, would like to acknowledge and thank the Red Cross, all the fantastic volunteers and marshalls (collectively known as the Clon crew), the great community of Courtmacsherry, all of the runners, walkers and wheelchair users and of course the awesome International Team Hoyt crew who took turns in pushing Rick Hoyt while he made everyone’s day with endless smiles.

“We were honoured to have Team Hoyt and Team Kerr as our guests this year and would like to emphasise that our races are all-inclusive. Team Hoyt and Team Kerry are planning to return next year and will have 30-40 Team Hoyt wheelchairs racing on the roads of West Cork,” says Bob.

The inspiring story of Team Hoyt

Rick was born in 1962 to Dick and Judy Hoyt. As a result of oxygen deprivation to Rick’s brain at the time of his birth, Rick was diagnosed as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy. Dick and Judy were advised to institutionalise Rick because there was no chance of him recovering, and little hope for Rick to live a ‘normal’ life. This was just the beginning of Dick and Judy’s quest for Rick’s inclusion in community, sports, education and one day, the workplace.

Dick and Judy soon realised that though Rick couldn’t walk or speak; he was quite astute and his eyes would follow them around the room. They fought to integrate Rick into the public school system, pushing administrators to see beyond Rick’s physical limitations. Dick and Judy would take Rick sledding and swimming, and even taught him the alphabet and basic words, like any other child. After providing concrete evidence of Rick’s intellect and ability to learn like everyone else, Dick and Judy needed to find a way to help Rick communicate for himself.

With $5,000 in 1972 and a skilled group of engineers at Tufts University, an interactive computer was built for Rick. This computer consisted of a cursor being used to highlight every letter of the alphabet. Once the letter Rick wanted was highlighted, he was able to select it by just a simple tap with his head against a headpiece attached to his wheelchair. When the computer was originally first brought home, Rick surprised everyone with his first words. Instead of saying, “Hi, Mom,” or “Hi, Dad,” Rick’s first “spoken” words were: “Go, Bruins!” The Boston Bruins were in the Stanley Cup finals that season. It was clear from that moment on, that Rick loved sports and followed the game just like anyone else.

In 1975, at the age of 13, Rick was finally admitted into public school. After high school, Rick attended Boston University, and he graduated with a degree in Special Education in 1993. Dick retired in 1995 as a Lt. Colonel from the Air National Guard, after serving his country for 37 years.

The Beginning of Team Hoyt

In the spring of 1977, Rick told his father that he wanted to participate in a five-mile benefit run for a Lacrosse player who had been paralysed in an accident. Far from being a long-distance runner, Dick agreed to push Rick in his wheelchair and they finished all five miles, coming in next to last. That night, Rick told his father, “Dad, when I’m running, it feels like I’m not handicapped.”

This realisation was just the beginning of what would become over 1150 races completed, including marathons, duathlons and triathlons (six of of them being Ironman competitions). Also adding to their list of achievements, Dick and Rick biked and ran across the US in 1992, completing a full 3,735 miles in 45 days, which they still hold a record for.


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