As a sports writer, I’ve gotten the chance to do lots of cool things. In this sense, I’m truly fortunate. I realize that. However, I have become very jaded over the years. Sadly, it happens to most sports writers. It’s an odd thing. We get so close to the world of sports that it’s really hard to truly be a “fan” anymore.
Occasionally though, a moment comes along that transcends sports and manages to breakthrough the crusty outer layer. That brings me to the Vancouver Winter Olympics. I’m here for three weeks covering the Games.
It’s hard to find time to run, but I managed to drag myself out of bed at 5:30 on the day of the Opening Ceremony and took off for nearby Stanley Park to run along the Seawall. I’m convinced that it’s one of the best urban parks in the world, along with Central Park in New York.
As I reached what seemed to be about the 4-mile mark, I noticed a huge police boat out in the bay. This seemed kind of odd to me, but I carried on. Soon, the police boat shined it’s light on me. Weird, I thought. But still I kept running along. I was pretty much alone in the darkness.
Soon, I began to realize I had no idea how far I had run. I thought of turning to my right and heading back through the middle of the park. But I had no idea where that would lead me. So I just decided to turn around and run back along the seawall.
As I got about 2 miles away from where I began the run, I noticed some cyclists gathering in the dark along the roadside. This also seemed odd, but I simply figured that they were meeting up for a morning ride. Then I started to hear some cheering.
At that point, I turned around and headed over to the gathering.
“What’s going on?,” I asked one of the cyclists.
“The torch is coming,” he said.
THE torch?, I thought. Sure enough, flashing police lights and a cyclist carrying the torch came over the horizon.
Wow! He stopped right in front of us and lit the torch of another runner. I was about 7 miles into my run and needed to get back to my hotel, but this opportunity doesn’t come along too often, so I ran alongside the torch for about a mile more as it was passed between three other runners.
As it turns out, Arnold Schwarzenegger had started the run in the park where the police boat was. I never saw him, but that explains the light being shone on me, I figured.
Luckily, I ran with my iPhone on this morning and managed to snap a decent picture of the moment.
After going back to the hotel, showering and heading back out the door to get to the main media center, I once again “ran” into the torch on the streets of downtown Vancouver. Then, there it was again at the Opening Ceremony, being carried by my boyhood sports idol, Wayne Gretzky.
There’s so much more to write about this day. But without a doubt, running alongside the torch will go down as one of the coolest moments I’ve ever experienced. I have 2 1/2 more weeks left here, but that’s going to be a tough one to top.