‘You’ve atoned’: Man finally returns Mile-Marker 22 sign stolen from 1977 Charlotte Marathon

North Carolina news

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WJZY) – There is a whole lot of growing up that happens on the street of a childhood home. It’s the backdrop for good memories and bad decisions.

“I had a little bit of a rebellious streak, I had my share of ‘Dennis the Menace’ moments when I was a kid,” said Ed Easton.

For Ed, Radcliffe Avenue by Queens University was the place where 12-year-old ‘Eddy’ made a choice that would weigh on him for the next four decades.

“I remember feeling a little bit guilty, I waited enough time where I was sure no one was going to miss this,” remembered Ed.

Grabbing a ladder and a wrench, ‘Eddy’ gave into temptation and took down a sign that had hung by his bus stop for the last few weeks. The eye-catching sign was the 22-mile marker from the first-ever Charlotte Marathon back in 1977.

“It was day-glow orange,” said Ed.

For the next 40 years, the sign traveled with Ed all over the world, moving between a handful of states with stops in the UK and Japan.  The sign went on a marathon of its own until June of 2021.

“This is the first letter I’ve ever gotten that was specifically about stealing something from Charlotte and not giving it back for 30 years,” said Nathan Leehman, the owner of the Ultra Running Company in Charlotte.

When Nathan opened up the package addressed to the Ultra Running Company, he had no idea what he was looking at until he read the childhood confession that came with it. The box had the old marathon sign and a handwritten letter, describing his crime.

“He was pretty sincere, I mean the guy’s been fighting this for the last 20 or 30 years and he can come out with a clean conscience,” laughed Nathan.

Ed credits the first Charlotte marathon and that stolen sign as the spark that started his lifelong love of running. He’s planning on coming back to run in the Novant Health Charlotte Marathon in November, that is, if he’s allowed to.

“Congratulations, Ed. You can finally come back to Charlotte, you’ve atoned,” laughed Nathan.

While he can’t go back to that fateful day, Ed can apologize for 12-year-old Eddy’s adventures on Radcliffe Avenue.

“I apologize to the race organizers, the Charlotte Observer, and my hometown of Charlotte for my petty larceny,” said Ed.

Letter from “Ed” about Charlotte Marathon sign

Race organizers are planning on using the 22-mile-marker during the race in November. People with NoDa Brewing company are also creating a beer that will feature the mile marker and sales will be used to raise money for Novant Children’s Hospital.

Registration for the marathon is available here.

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