As Richard Hoyt and his son Rick wound through the crowds of runners straggling past the finish line, curious spectators and marathoners alike had dumbfounded expressions.
Hundreds of spectators gaped at the Hoyts. One person clapped. One man, who also had just completed the 26.2-mile Marine Corps race, slapped Richard Hoyt on the back and yelled, "God bless you." Another man shook Hoyt's hand and exclaimed, "Glad to be in the same race as you."
Richard Hoyt pushed his son and his wheelchair the entire marathon distance in 3 hours 16 minutes.
"He goes crazy, and he almost jumps out of the chair," said Richard, 44, a father of four from Holland, Mass. "We had a number for (the) New York (City Marathon), but Rick ran this one before (1982) and he thought this race would be better than New York."
Richard Hoyt has never run a marathon alone. Neither has his son. But as a pair yesterday, they completed their seventh marathon.
Just to finish a marathon is enough for most people. The Hoyts wanted a personal best of 2:45, but had to settle for their worst time.
"It makes me so mad because the weather was so perfect, and I ran poorly," said Richard, as dozens of people offered congratulations for the courageous feat.
Rick, 22, was born with cerebral palsy. He is in his second year at Boston University, where he is studying computer programming as the first quadriplegic, non-speaking student accepted to the school.
While he cannot talk without the aid of a computer, his gestures can sometimes tell the whole story. Asked if he enjoyed riding with his father, his eyes lit up and he nodded his head.
Had it not been for the son, the father probably never would have run a marathon. "When Rick was in middle school, his physical education teacher, who was a basketball coach, was having a five-mile charity race for one of his players who had a broken neck," said Richard, a weekend jogger until five years ago. "It was Rick's idea to support the race."
"It was Rick's prompting and keeping his dad involved," said his mother, Judy. "It gives him and his father something to do together."
The first person to arrive at the finish line also competed in a wheelchair. By virtue of a 10-minute head start, Wannie Cook of Richmond was never caught by the lead runners, and won the wheelchair division in 2:23. Cook's victory halted Ken Archer's winning streak at three Marine Corps Marathons.
"I was lucky," said Cook, 37, who lost both legs in combat in Vietnam. "He's (Archer) always tough. You've got to catch him on a bad day."
Cook began wheelchair racing in the mid-1970s, because "I just knew I needed to use a wheelchair for the rest of my life. I saw others enjoying the wheelchair, and I wanted to enjoy it, too."
Archer, 35, had his legs pinned between two cars in an accident in 1971. He walks with artificial limbs, but races in a wheelchair. He had won his division five of six years, and holds the course record of 2:21:11.
"I've been spending a lot of time with my four sons," said Archer, who works at the Bureau of Labor Statistics and has been a friend of Cook's for more than 10 years. "I haven't been training as much lately. I've been watching my sons play soccer, baseball, track -- regular sports. I'd like to be able to do them, but it's almost impossible unless you sit in the chair and throw the ball."
"The first thing I thought from the start was, 'Where's Kenny Archer?' " joked Cook, a recreational therapist for the Veterans Administration. "At 19 (miles), I caught a glimpse of him ahead. I almost died 10 times trying to catch him. I don't have to win. All I have to do is the best that I can with what I have."