On Saturday night, there was a big party on Parliament Hill to celebrate the Olympic Torch at the same time as the lighting of the holiday decorations. A lot of people made it. Much more than I've seen in previous years for the lighting ceremony alone. Athletes were offering autographs and pictures and even one of the torch bearer was there with his torch, graciously offering pictures to anyone interested. Cool!
Sponsors were out in full force dispensing with knick-knacks, product samples and talking about their special offers. I didn't stick around too much and went back to the hill to see the show. After Gregory Charles was done with a nice performance of singing with a choir and the crowd, the ceremony started to drag on with CEOs and presidents of Vancouver Olympic Committee and other government agencies. Even the PM made an appearance. Finally the flame arrived. It was tough to see it through the thick crowds, but easy enough to spot on the super size screens on both sides of the stage. Yay for technology.
After the torch had arrived, the program turned into an anti-climactic interviews of youths from up north. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy these kids are living a once in a lifetime experience but I don't think they should have been put on the stage like that, they looked shy and afraid. The fireworks that celebrated the holiday lights were really neat with amazing sync to the music. The lights themselves were a bit of a let down but probably because the stage was hiding them, I'll try to go back once they packed up the stage and left because usually the hill is a beautiful sight around the holidays. I left as the rock show started.
Since I didn't get to see the flame up close and personal, I followed on my plan to see it again on Sunday. I planned my long run so I could follow the flame on its journey. Exciting stuff I tell you! When I got to the intersection where the relay started for that day, I was surprised to see so many people. When the flame made its appearance, the crowd roared. It was pretty electrifying. I'm sure Canada's athletes can feel our support and they know they'll make us proud!
The flame relay runners were not all as speedy as I expected. Some took the moment in and allowed for lots of picture taking :) This one was pretty quick!
The coolest moment for me is when they light each other's flame and really "relaying" the flame from one torch to the other. Very moving!
I really liked the parts on the quieter streets such as Palladium drive. The lack of crowd allowed me to run in parallel with the flame. I still had to keep my distance, the flame bodyguards were out in full force.
A very inspiring start to my morning run. I thought I could run along with the flame for the 20 or so km I had planned for the morning. Unfortunately that is not what happenned...
Once the flame got to ScotiaBank place, it was quickly tucked away in a truck and driven away. I thought of treason or high stakes robbery but the police and officials were not reacting. I found someone who looked like he was in the know and asked about what had just happened. He was quick to calmly explain to me that the flame was now in "convoy mode", doublespeak for cheating! The flame had to cover 300km today, possibly to make up for staying in the nation's capital for 4 days.
I don't mean to rain on the "relay" parade but I'm pretty sure tradition doesn't involve relaying the flame on horses or carriages. We're boasting that this will be the longest relay in Olympic history but that means very little to me if this is what a relay looks like:
Okay, my angle is that of someone who wanted to carry the torch and wasn't chosen. I would have happily carried the torch from Parliament Hill last night to the starting point this morning. When I submitted my name, I purposely picked communities that were a bit remote because I knew they may not have lots of volunteers there. Unfortunately, the relay seems to be more of a marketing / photo op exercise and the towns where I volunteered for are probably covered with the flame in "convoy mode".
The official seemed to think that covering 4500km in 100 days is impossible if not using motor vehicles. I look at people like Ray Zahab and Terry Fox. They are Canadian inspirations and they covered more than the 45km a day, day in and day out, on their own. Having a real honest relay would have been possible and it would have given more opportunities for people that wanted to be torch bearers.
So with the flame disappearing away at high speeds, I decided to finish my 20k workout by going around in circles at the palladium auto park. It was very quiet on Sunday morning so I could use the street when the sidewalk wasn't quite clear.
The workout lasted a precise 2 hours. Not bad for 20km, especially since I stopped and slowed down quite a bit to see / take pictures of the flame.
Serial Killaz again (over and over) in the mix today as my music player was stuck in repeat and I couldn't play with the buttons since I tucked it inside my jacket!