Eight months ago I heard a radio advertisement saying that Coca-cola was running a contest where Canadians could be selected to run with the Olympic Torch. I completed the basic application and was required to write an essay on how I live a green and sustainable lifestyle that aligns with the core values of Coca-cola and the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. Working for a company like Icebreaker provided a portion of my essay but the real content of my essay came down to my everyday practices such as living in a high density, geo-thermal building, using a car share program, taking public transit, a being a board member for an alternative transportation organization. I submitted my essay in mid-August and by October I received the amazing news that I was selected to be a Torch Bearer in Oliver, a small town in interior British Columbia.
As the date crept closer and closer I grew more and more excited about my run. I checked the daily live highlights from the torch relay internet site, I tried on my uniform and practiced carrying the flame (I know, kinda nerdy but it made for some good laughs) and I coordinated with my family to fly in so we could spend a few days in the interior together. The day before my run my family and I went down to Osoyoos, BC and watch the community celebration highlighting the relay, Canadian athletes, the local community and more. It was a great event with local musical groups, politicians, athletes and of course the finale was the torch running in and lighting the community cauldron with Fireworks in the background.
After an early morning wake up on Monday I went to the Oliver Visitor Centre to meet with the 20 other Torch Bearers that were running with me in Oliver that day. We had a briefing on the background of the torch, the protocol for the day and how to make sure we didn’t burn our eyebrows off with the flame. As one of 12,000 torch bearers in Canada my moment was coming soon and I could feel the anticipation building.
Our transfer bus dropped us off at our respective starting points and as I waited for the flame to reach my leg of the relay I was greeted by family, friends, a parade of pump up support crew from Coca-cola and RBC along with a support crew from VANOC. As the Flame approached I realized the impact and the power that the Torch and Flame signify. The dreams, aspirations and hopes of athletes, fans and visitors from around the world was being carried by each one of us and the importance was not that “I” was carrying the torch, but instead that that torch was being welcomed by all of Canada into each of our homes and our hearts and that I was just the vessel for the 400m segment, of the 45,000 km journey across Canada, that I was running.
With the burning torch in hand I was amazed at the heat of the flame on my face and the awe that flickers and smoke drew. With light steps and a steady pace I began to run and carried on the flame’s journey to Vancouver. As short as the run was in distance it felt like an eternity in time. With a big smile, waving red mitts and my clean white uniform I know really felt the Olympic spirit and was glad to be a part of the excitement.
After my run my family and I took a series of photos to commemorate the run as to someday provide an image to show my grandchildren when the Olympics are back in Canada. Torch in hand, but flame passed on, I gathered my belongings and headed to the airport to return home with a wonderful story and extraordinary experience to share with my friends and colleagues back home and now with you online. Below are some photos of the special day for me and for Canada. Enjoy the Olympics, share the spirit and keep the flame burning.
PS. I know it likely seems obvious, but yes I was wearing head to toe Icebreaker underneath my VANOC torch bearer uniform. It was the perfect balance of warmth in the 0 degree weather. What exactly was next to my skin? Skier+ Socks, Rapid Leggings, GT200 Chase Crewe with Quantum Zip and Quantum Chute. The red mittens??? Well…….unfortunately they weren’t merino, but they did support Canadian athletes.
- Kent Hawkins, Icebreaker Canadian Marketing Manager