Event memorable for torch bearers for torch bearers


Two Moffat County High School teachers had the opportunity to carry the Olympic torch Saturday on its 59th day of cross country travel.

In a day where the torch was carried by a skier, snow shoer and swimmer, wood shop teacher Craig Conrad and vocational agriculture teacher Rick Murr carried the torch the old-fashioned way, jogging down the road wearing sneakers.

Murr carried the torch early Saturday morning at mile marker 143 on Highway 6 near Gypsum and Conrad carried the torch Saturday afternoon at Maroon Creek Bridge in Aspen.

"It was cool," Conrad said of his run. "I've never played in the Superbowl, but it must feel something like this."

Conrad didn't get caught up in the emotions of the event until he climbed back on the van carrying the torch runners at the conclusion of his run.

"I was doing really good until we got in the van and they played the Olympic theme song," he said.

A video of the torch's path was played as well as video clips of heroes from the present and past including Mayor Rudolph Guliani and boxer Muhammad Ali.

"After that, everyone was emotional," Conrad said. "This was definitely a once in a lifetime experience."

Murr shared Conrad's sentiments, and said it was difficult for him to put his emotions into words.

"It was one of those experiences that was very moving," he said. "I got a little choked up when I realized what this means to everybody."

Murr, who had several family and friends in attendance at his run, said the feeling was more overwhelming than he anticipated.

"It was a true honor," he said. "It's something I'll never forget. I've been on cloud nine ever since Saturday morning. It really makes you feel good about the country you live in."

The streets of Aspen were lined with American flags, and people came out in droves for downtown festivities put on for the runners.

The U.S. Air Force Academy's Drum and Bugle Corps kicked off the downtown festivities.

Three Aspen Olympians, Chris Klug, Katie Monahan and Casey Pucket, lead the crowd in the singing of the National anthem, and The Olympic Torch Choir also performed.

As the Olympic torch continued on its path to Salt Lake City, it passed through Glenwood Springs, where former Olympic gold-medal swimmer George DiCarlo toted the torch while doing a one-armed backstroke across the 405-foot hot springs pool.

"This is the longest pool I've ever been in," DiCarlo said. "I kept looking around, going, 'Are we there yet?' I don't swim that much anymore so that's kind of a long way to kick."

Olympic gold medal wrestler Rulon Gardner, of Afton, Wyo., carried the flame on its final leg in Glenwood Springs.

After taking yesterday off for the Superbowl, the torch made its first appearance in Utah today, with a sunrise ceremony at Delicate Arch in southern Utah.

More than 500 people carried the torch during its four-day Colorado trek through 15 cities.

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