For Glen Baber, getting to run with the torch was a unique experience he will hold on to for years. Baber was one of the first torchbearers to bring the flame into Castlegar on Jan. 24.
He was living in Thrums when he applied to be a torchbearer, but currently resides in Nelson.
Baber ran from underneath the Robson bridge to the Legion, before passing the flame on to the next runner.
“It was absolutely thrilling,” said Baber. “You really sort of get caught up in the hype and it was really exciting. I spent quite a bit of time talking to Tom (Biln) about his Olympic experience and that really added to the thrill, and he was certainly very excited about it.”
“My whole family was there watching. It was just a really wonderful experience. It was a real honour to be selected,” he said. “It was a fun experience.”
Baber did not realize the torch would be ferried between communities in a vehicle and had originally hoped he would be running in between major communities.
“I had visions of running through Thrums, where I used to live,” said Baber.
But the experience turned out to be very memorable. “While I was waiting for the torch to come and light mine, there were a couple of families and little kids there and it was really thrilling for them,” said Baber.
He was happy to let children hold the torch and pose with them for photos.
“It was a very emotional experience.”
Baber’s excitement built up as the date of the torch run in Castlegar approached.
“I got a lot more excited about it as the moment came,” he explained.
“A week or so before I was feeling maybe it would be a fun experience. I wasn’t hopping up and down with excitement. But the night before, I had trouble sleeping. And the people there who work with the torch (run), I think they sort of try to build the hype as well. They show you films of emotional situations – carrying the torch in the past, excitement and people getting medals, all that kind of thing.”
Baber especially appreciated mingling with former Olympians on Jan. 24. “It was a real treat talking to Tom (Biln), and getting to hold his silver medal – that really added to it as well,” he said.
But Baber has an athletic side to his own life. “I’m a pretty active person. I do quite a bit of running and skiing and cycling and things like that – very small ‘c’ competitive. I do go to running races in the community once in a while. I’m kind of an old fart,” he said.
“It would be fun to be in Vancouver to be a part of the celebration. I just might do that, too. I don’t think I’ll be attending any of the Games. For sure I’ll be watching it on TV.
I do sort of appreciate and enjoy watching people who are really good at what they do,” said Baber.
He enjoyed his experience enough to keep the torch afterward.
VANOC charges torchbearers $400 to keep their torches after the run. Most of the runners in Castlegar paid the price, said Baber.
He’s not exactly sure what he’ll do with the torch, but for now Baber’s holding onto a piece of the Olympics that he was lucky enough to be a part of.