A Run to Remember
By Master Sgt. Nancy Ausland, 114th FW/PA
/ Published March 23, 2010
3/6/2010 -- The 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia weren't just something to watch on a cold winter night for one South Dakota Air National Guard Airman, it was also a run to remember.
Chosen by his employer, DM&E Railroad, Staff Sgt. Thomas Ries was lucky enough to be one of very few Americans chosen to be a torch bearer for this year's winter games in Canada.
For his part of the run, Sgt. Ries and four others ran their torches through a small town just north of Lake Superior called Nipigon.
"The pride that the Canadians feel for the Olympics is really amazing," said Sgt. Ries. "You tell people you are a torch bearer and they treat you like your some sort of a king."
The torch that Sgt. Ries actually carried for the run is now his to keep thanks to his employer.
"Canadian Pacific who owns DM&E Railroad actually purchased the torches for us." said Sgt. Ries.
The torches have only been available for bearers to purchase for a couple of years. Fifteen thousand torches were produced for this year's winter games and twelve thousand torch bearers participated. After the bearer is done with the run, the line carrying fuel to sustain the flame is cut so that the torch will never be lit again. The original flame is transferred to a coalminer's lantern to be taken to the next city where that city's torch bearers wait.
Although it was a cold and windy day on Jan. 3 when he ran the 1/4 mile up-hill run with his arm in the air it was one that he'll never forget.
"An 11-year old girl came up to me in the hotel after the run all excited to meet a torch bearer," shared Sgt. Ries.
The little girl had her picture taken with Ries and his torch and as it turned out, was in town for a doctor appointment and was going to miss going with her class to see the torch being run through her hometown the next day.
"She ended up with a better experience to share with her classmates when she got home because she actually got to hold a torch." said Sgt. Ries.
The entire experience was a memorable one for both Ries and his wife and the torch he'll forever display will prompt many stories for years to come.