"I just couldn't believe it. We have been trying to trace back the lineage of the road race," Paula Lannon said.
Lannon organizes the Crowley Road Race, one of the oldest road races in New England. For decades she has been searching high and low for historical artifacts, but has only recovered a few newspaper clippings and a single photograph. Until now.
The fine details and aged inscriptions gleam in the sunshine on a piece of Rutland history that was believed to be long gone. But 85 years later in a Michigan attic, the original Crowley Road Race trophy was found.
"For the Crowley Road race, I think this trophy really brings it all together for us. It makes everything tangible for everyone who is involved in the race," Lannon said.
What began as a friendly competition in 1928 between Crowley and famous marathon runner Clarence DeMar has slowly evolved over the years into a full weekend affair. Lannon says in the early years the race would have just a few dozen runners. And this year, there are nearly 1000 registered participants. The race still starts in Proctor and ends in Rutland.
Mike Lannon helps his wife organize the event, but is the runner in the family. He says this trophy will mean a lot to fellow racers.
"Runners run for a lot of different reasons, primarily their health. But runners run for trophies, they run for prize money, they run for tradition. This trophy will definitely generate a lot of interest because it is a traditional race. We have a lot of people come back year after year," he said.
A tradition that now attracts thousands of spectators into the city for the weekend. Each year the race is held in between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, a time when local businesses could use a few extra shoppers.
"There is some real significance to the event and what it means to the local economy because it is a real economic boost when that many people come from all over the United States," said Tom Donahue of the Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce.
And spectators and runners alike can finally feast their eyes on a longtime missing piece of race history, that is finally back home.
There were several years the race was not held after Crowley's passing, so this will technically be the 37th consecutive year. The race will be held June 9 and WCAX News will be there.