Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Victoria Highlights

(mostly written on Feb 11 but posted on Feb 17th, 2010 on My Life Is Like A Song)

I arrived in Victoria last night. No, don't get confused, I know the Olympics are in Vancouver, but I have free accommodation in Victoria, so here I am. I'll be commuting to Vancouver for my Olympics events.

So today, I considered going into Vancouver to try to see Steve Nash run in the Torch Relay, but found out the time too late to get there (looks like his time ended up changing so I might not have found him anyway).

I decided to have a relaxing day going around Victoria instead.

My hosts/tourist guides recommended going to Mile 0 to see the Terry Fox Statue and to go to the Frontrunners store because it has a Simon Whitfield jersey on display (as well as a Steve Nash jersey that my host forgot to mention...hello???) Ok, perhaps not your typical tourist stops in Victoria, but perfect stops for me.

If you know me or have read my blog for a long time, you will remember me being very excited to have visited the Thunder Bay Terry Fox statue in the summer of 2008 (and in 1983). I also mentioned him as one of my favourite reasons to love Canada (interestingly, the photo I used for this post was of the Victoria statue that my friend took when my son's Flat Stanley visited him - you can see the Flat Stanley on the statue).

As I approach the Terry Fox statue in Victoria, I can see that there is an Olympic torch in his arms. I am thinking..."ooohhh, they put an Olympic Torch on the statue for the Olympics", not realizing that it's a much too valuable an item to leave out. I don't rush over (thinking it's there for a while) and make a phone call home.

As I'm on the phone, I see someone take the torch down..."oh gosh, I missed the cool of a photo would that have been?'

So I rush off the telephone and head over to the statue. A very friendly man wearing a Terry Fox t-shirt strikes up a conversation with me, wondering where I'm from. The conversation finally gets to him as I ask him why he's wearing a Terry Fox t-shirt (and there is a television camera man there interviewing him).

It turns out that he is Rob Reid, the owner of Frontrunners, the store I was planning on visiting. He was the driving force to have the Terry Fox statue erected in Victoria.

So here I am, at the Terry Fox statue, watching the man responsible for the statue being erected being interviewed by A Channel.

All I can say is...


Then he tells me to get his friend (from Calgary) to take my photo holding his Olympic torch with the Terry Fox statue.

You may know that I had the privilege of holding an Olympic torch a few months ago (you can read about that here), but for now, to hold the Olympic Torch of someone who is one step removed from Terry Fox (and Simon Whitfield and Steve Nash), beside the Terry Fox statue was SUCH an honour...and really...SURREAL!!

After a few stops, (for afternoon tea, to see Emily Carr's house which was not opened and to Harbour Air to organize my flight to Vancouver) I end up at Frontrunners. I locate Simon Whitfield and Steve Nash's jerseys and ask permission to take photos.

I had so much fun in the store. I was like a kid in a candy store. Who needs a museum when you have Frontrunners?

The staff were amazing and completely indulged me in my enthusiasm. Rob had just left apparently, so I just missed him. One of the staff saw me and said "the girl with the black coat and black camera...Rob said you'd be by". Ooooohhh, I'm famous! LOL (I don't think in a good way though).

Rob it turns out had gone out for a run. I'm not sure if he forgot something, but he ended up running back into the store for a minute...enough time for me to take a photo, for him to say hello and give me a hug.

In another part of the store, they had Rob's torch relay outfit with a cutout of his face and the torch sitting on the wall above. The staff were great and brought the torch down and took a photo of me with it again (beside Rob's it!!).

Many of the employees in the store are world class runners. One of them, Jim Finlayson holds the World Record for the Beer Mile and is a two-time Canadian National Marathon Champion.

Another employee, Erin van Wiltenburg, who fitted me for some running shoes (ok, walking shoes) ran 100 marathons (4200 km) in Africa in 120 days in 2008!

The store also displayed Simon Whitfield's autographed jacket from the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester and his running shoes on display.

A perfect museum for me.

I also took the opportunity when I left to take a photo of the cherry blossoms in bloom outside of the store (yes, it is February!).

Really, a perfect day in Victoria...for me.

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