STAMFORD, Conn. – Running won’t be the same in Fairfield County without Sean Fogarty around, John Schwartz says. As a longtime running partner of the Stamford man, Schwartz should know.
Schwartz and Fogarty frequently traveled together to races. Their friendship dates to 1989, when both worked for Cadbury in Stamford. Fogarty, 70, died unexpectedly last week.
“Within about five seconds, he found out I was a runner and we hit it off right from the start,’’ said Schwartz, director of gymnastics at the Darien YMCA and a Ridgefield resident. “He had a way of finding runners. He recruited me to start running with him and some other Cadbury folks. We ran every afternoon or evening.”
Fogarty was well-known on the Fairfield County circuit and was a member of the Norwalk-based Lightfoot Runners. The group dedicated an 11-mile race to his memory last weekend.
With nearly 60 marathons to his credit, Fogarty was an accomplished runner. “Even in his 50s, he ran a 3:15 marathon in Dublin,’’ Schwartz said. “The marathon was his pride and joy. He respected that distance so much. It didn’t matter what kind of shape he was in, he never dropped out of a race.”
It was Fogarty’s magnetism, however, that endeared him to others. “He had that aura of positive energy,’’ Schwartz said. “He had that ability to make everyone feel better. He had a lot of Irish sayings that we always got a kick out of. We weren’t entirely sure what he was saying, but we knew he meant well. Everybody enjoyed seeing him at the races.”
Fogarty ran all over Fairfield County and beyond. He participated in the Boston Buildup winter series, the Lightfoot Summer Series and particularly enjoyed races associated with Irish themes, such as the Connecticut Irish Festival 5k and the St. Patrick’s Day Classic in Fairfield.
Fogarty completed the New York City Marathon six times, including a best of 3:37:05 in 1989. In 1997, he traveled with a group via bus to the race. The runners endured rain during the race and anxiously awaited the ride home. Fogarty, however, could not be found. Finally, the group headed home without him. When friends finally reached Fogarty, they found out he had taken the train and was relaxing at home before they had even left the city.
Schwartz visited Valley Forge, Pa., last weekend to run alone along a route he and Fogarty ran together a few years ago on their way to a half-marathon in Charlottesville, Va. “I wanted to do that in Sean’s honor,’’ Schwartz said, “and to clear my own head.”
Fogarty’s engaging personality will be missed.
“He wanted to share the joy that he had,’’ Schwartz said. “He treated everybody like they were a star, it didn’t matter to him how fast they were. He wanted to bring everyone into the fold. For the most part, he succeeded at that.”