Lett always enjoyed his running days

Gazette File Photo Houghton’s Chris Lett was all alone in a 1991 prep cross country meet at the PLGC. Lett went on to a fine career in cross country and track at Michigan State.

WAUWATOSA, Wis. — With an exception or two, Chris Lett has always enjoyed running.

One of the exceptions came at the 2013 Boston Marathon where the former Houghton High and Michigan State University product was competing.

“We (a couple of friends were also there) had just completed the run when we heard a lot of noise from a couple of blocks over,” Lett recalled recently. “It very scary …. to think someone would do something like that.”

Terrorists had set off two homemade bombs, killing three people and injuring several others on a black day in Beantown.

But Lett, who posted a very respectable time of three hours, two minutes that day, has not competed in Boston since.

But it was not fear that kept him away …. he had other things to do in his life.

“By that time, my wife and I had our second child. It was just time to refocus on other things,” he said.

Growing up in Houghton, Chris said that competitive running ranked far below hockey and basketball until junior high.

“I actually didn’t compete in a meet until I was in the eighth grade,” he recalled. “My coach, Bill Fezzey, encouraged me to to try it out.”

His interest in cross country and track peaked as he reached high school.

Starting as a freshman, Lett was a consistent top one-two finisher in cross country.

Longtime Gremlins assistant track coach Dan Junttila said Lett’s consistency set him apart.

“He was a very hard worker who led by example,” Junttila said. “You knew what you were going to get meet after meet.”

Lett’s accomplishments mirrored the great success achieved by Fred Teddy of L’Anse High some twenty years earlier.

Teddy excelled in cross country and track for the Hornets, and also earned a scholarship to Michigan State.

“I heard a lot about him (Teddy),” Lett said. “I never met him but what from all I heard, he was a legend up here.”

Standing a lanky 6-foot-4, Lett also aided the Gremlins on the basketball court in his final two years of high school.

“I wasn’t a great shooter, but I could jump and rebound,” he recalled. “It was a lot of fun.”

After he swept the distance events for the third straight year at the 1991 U.P. Track and Field finals, Lett was offered a scholarship from MSU.

Competing in cross country, track and indoor track, the Houghton native had what he described “as a very enjoyable four years in East Lansing.”

“Competing against the best runners from all over the state was a great experience …. one I wouldn’t trade anything for.”

Chris has competed in a few marathons (including Boston twice) since. He also just missed making the 1996 U.S. team for the Atlanta Olympics.

He has taken part in the Hancock Canal Run, winning in 1994 and 1995 in record times.

“The Canal Run is a nice event and it was great to get home,” he said. “But I don’t plan on competing up there in the near future.”

Now 46, Lett works in economic planning for a Milwaukee firm. He lives in Wauwatosa with his wife and two children.