For nine people in the Kitchener-Waterloo-Woolwich area, a 300-metre jog through the cold air on Dec. 27 might be their shot at the proverbial 15 minutes of fame … well, perhaps a minute or so.
Pamela James, a Heidelberg resident for the past six years, has been chosen alongside eight other people in the area to carry the Olympic torch when it travels through the Kitchener-Waterloo area just after Christmas Day, on the longest torch-carrying relay in Olympic history.
The 2010 Olympic Torch Relay begins its journey to Vancouver with the traditional lighting ceremony in Olympia, Greece before the flame will travel 45,000 kilometres across Canada, passing through every province and territory, through over 1,000 communities. Twelve thousand Canadians will get the opportunity to be a small part of history by carrying the Olympic Flame over the course of 100 days.
The relay will finish at BC Place on Feb. 12, 2010, with the lighting of the Olympic cauldron, signaling the start of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
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Seeing an ad looking for torchbearers, James couldn’t pass up the opportunity. “I run out Kressler Road and all throughout the country roads here and I thought ‘this will be fun. I will never get another opportunity like this.’”
Running 300 metres while carrying the torch seemed to be a fairly easy task for James who is an avid runner, but getting to that point turned out to be more complicated a process than she had expected. For participants to be selected to run, they first had to enter their names into a lottery, and if chosen, submit a 300-word essay outlining why they would be good representatives for their community. At that point, submissions were reviewed by an Olympic panel made up of athletes and professionals, and applicants were required to have a background check performed by the RCMP. Following a successful background check, the runners were asked to read and sign a 17-page contract outlining their duties and responsibilities which extend beyond the run itself.
To be considered as a contestant, entrants need to be fairly physically active and have contributed to the community in a number of ways. Following the relay, it is expected that participants will go into schools to talk to students about the importance of staying active and keeping healthy, as well as encouraging them to be aware of not only the Olympics, but topics concerning the world at large.
The run enters our area from the west with stops on Dec. 27 in Tavistock, Stratford, Shakespeare, New Hamburg, New Dundee, Cambridge, Waterloo and Kitchener, where it will spend the night. The run continues the next day east to Guelph and north to Erin and eventually swings west again to Mt. Forest, Durham, Hanover, Walkerton, Kincardine, Port Elgin and Southampton to end the day with a nighttime party in Owen Sound.
Outfitted in an official Vancouver 2010 Olympic white tracksuit with red mittens and a white toque, James will be one of nine participants in the Kitchener-Waterloo area to bundle up and run to represent their community.
“It’s the experience of lifetime, and I get to keep the torch too!”