LITCHFIELD – Some people run to win. Some run for exercise. Some run for neither. Sometimes there is something else in play that has nothing to do with competition or health. So it was Sunday for the Scanlon family.
In the 46th running of the Litchfield Hills Road Race the Scanlon contingent ran for love. There was little concern for times and a healthy heart was not the top motivation. This was a tribute to one of their own, Michael Scanlon, who died suddenly on April 18th at the youthful age of 61 of a form of leukemia.
Michael had been skiing in Utah just two weeks prior and there was no indication of what transpired.
“He was just tired,” best friend Billy Andrulis said. “He had no idea and we had no idea. He went into the hospital on Saturday and was gone a couple of days later.”
The Scanlons and friends were not hard to find Sunday. Large in number they were a green wave nattily attired in green shirts with 1989 and 47.14 along with LHRR written on the front and ‘Running with Scan’ in white letters on the back. The year and number were in recognition of Scanlon’s best time in the LHRR, an achievement he was mighty proud of.
“He was always quick to remind us that he had the lowest time in the Scanlon family,” Andrulis said.
Michael’s brother John had 48 tee shirts printed and figures about 35 members of the Scan clan ran (or participated if you will).
“He (Michael) ran in this race about 30-40 times,” John said. “This has always been our family reunion and it is the third time we have made the shirts. We did it when my father died and for Covid.”
“This is a wonderful tribute to Michael,” Andrulis said. “He loved this race. He used to say it was the worse hour of the weekend, the race. The rest was a great party. Next year we’re going to do a golf tournament in the spring. “
Andrulis isn’t family by blood but his relationship to Michael was timeless. He was the best friend. Both Litchfield guys, they met in third grade and a lifelong friendship resulted. A whole lot of sharing and caring along the way. They went through school together graduating in 1980.
“We were just best buds,” Andrulis said. “We played basketball and soccer together and were captains of the basket all team. He was two-time All-State in soccer and captain. We even lived together in Boston for a while after high school. It has been a devastating loss for me. “
It was Andrulis who got the call to give the eulogy at Michael’s funeral.
“It was the hardest thing for me and awesome at the same time,” Andrulis said. “I had the opportunity to reflect on 50 years together and wonderful times. We each had three kids. His friends were my friends and because of that we each broadened each other’s lives.”
Michael lived in Lynnfield, Mass. with his wife Lenore and children Patrick, Katie and Taylor but didn’t need to be reminded to come back home.
“He came back to Litchfield for two reasons – the Memorial Day Parade and the Litchfield Road Race,” Andrulis said. “He loved it. “He used to bring his friends from college (St. Michael’s – Vermont).
On a picture-perfect day the warm weather made the LHRR extra challenging Sunday. Running for Michael Scanlon added its own touching element of tough. If the day that included mass in the morning had emotions on high there was something else.
“One of the toughest parts was people that know us and others patting us on the back as we were running,” Andrulis admitted.
You think about a lot of things when running or even walking. Where’s the next breath coming from, hope my legs don’t cramp, where’s the finish line, just finish. For the Scan clan there might have been some of that but thoughts were elsewhere.
They thought about the guy with the big sense of humor, the guy that liked the beach, the guy who liked to ski. The family man with a special dog. The guy who made life better and then was gone too soon and too quick. They looked for a face that wasn’t there. They found a smile and wiped away a tear.
More than 1,100 runners ran for a lot reasons Sunday. The gang in green, the Scan Clan, they ran for Michael. They ran for love.