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Lost trophy last seen at Powell River Recreation Complex

Marathon Shuffle organizers create new version for 2024 winners
Clay Brander [left] and Marathon Shuffle director Ean Jackson were part of a group of volunteers responsible for creating a new trophy for the annual event.

It may not be as famous as some of Canada’s other trophies, such as the Grey Cup and Stanley Cup, but that doesn’t mean some people won’t go to great lengths (about 27 kilometres, in fact) to get their hands on the Tom Mills Marathon Shuffle trophy.

“It’s been a prized trophy for 25 years,” stated Ean Jackson, event director of the annual shuffle in the qathet region. “It’s got a story, too. It’s a mystery!”

The Tom Mills trophy, previously awarded to the first female and male finisher each year, had vanished. The last time it was seen was in a display cabinet at Powell River Recreation Complex sometime in 2019.

“How can a slice of cedar two feet in diameter simply disappear?” asked Jackson. “I contacted everyone connected to the trophy but found nothing.

“We’d like to have our own Phil Pritchard, as the NHL does, to look after the cup, but we’re a volunteer organization with no budget for the white gloves and snappy suit."

Jackson asked the community for help when the original trophy could not be located.

“That was the start of a long but ultimately successful journey,” recalled Jackson. “Eagle Walz, one of the founders of the shuffle, took me on a hike and we scavenged pieces of cedar for a new trophy. With the help of Wayne Gooch and Ken Cawley, those pieces were finished. Unfortunately, I didn’t know my wood, so they dried out and cracked so badly we figured they would not last."

Brian “Bushman” Lee and Norah LeClare both contributed lovely burls, and Clay Brander stepped forward and offered to use his special machinery to polish and engrave the burl that was ultimately selected for the trophy. With time running out for completing the trophy for this year’s event, Jackson set out on the challenging task of finding the names and finish times of the top finishers over the past 30 years.

“I wanted to make sure I didn't goof up by misspelling a person’s name or putting an incorrect time on the brass plaque, so I tried to contact everyone I figured should be honoured on the trophy.”

While some names and times are available on the Marathon Shuffle website, Jackson learned from interviews with the founders of the event that recordkeeping back in the early days of the event was a bit loose.

The mystery of what happened to the original trophy may never be solved, however, top finishers of this year’s Marathon Shuffle will be presented with a special replacement trophy thanks to a supportive community.  

The mystery of who the top finishers were for the first 10 years also remains, so some plaques will be blank. Anyone who might be able to help fill in the blanks is encouraged to contact Jackson at [email protected].

The Marathon Shuffle begins at 9 am on Sunday, April 28. Top finishers are expected to cross the finish line in the upper parking lot of the Shinglemill Pub & Bistro shortly after 11 am. The award ceremony will take place in the Shinglemill at 3 pm. Members of the public are welcome to drop in and see the new trophy.  

Jackson is not yet sure where the new trophy will be displayed.

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