Torch run unforgettable for family


For Moffat County High School teacher Craig Conrad, carrying the Olympic torch Saturday was an unforgettable experience.

But he wasn't the only one who will carry the memories from that Saturday afternoon with him forever.

Conrad's 12-year-old son, Colton Conrad, also thought the day was something special.

Aside from being the proud son of an Olympic torch bearer, Colton was also his father's training partner for the 400-yard trek.

Colton, who shovels a sidewalk four blocks from his home, was joined by his father in the last couple months scooping the snow.

"My dad would come over and help me shovel the walk," he said. "When we got done, we'd run home with our shovels on our shoulders, just like he was going to have to do when he was carrying the torch. This was pretty cool, though."

Yet despite their months of waiting, anticipation and practice, Colton and his mother, Vicki Conrad, almost missed the big moment.

"We weren't sure what end of the Maroon Creek bridge that Craig was going to be running on," Vicki said. "So we set up on the north side, and hoped that would be where he began his leg."

But Vicki and Colton picked the wrong side.

Conrad was to receive the torch on the south end of the bridge, almost 300 yards from where his wife and son were waiting.

"Apparently my wife talked to one of the organizers and they said it was going to be at the other end of the bridge," Conrad said. "I was worried about them missing the entire thing."

When Conrad realized his son and wife had picked the wrong side, he jumped off of the bus to inform them that he would not be getting the torch for another 300 yards.

Conrad's fellow torch bearers riding in the bus were alarmed at his action.

"Everyone was telling me 'Hey, you forgot your torch!'" Conrad said.

At that point, Colton's training began to pay off.

Dashing the 300 yards over the bridge with his camcorder in hand, Colton was able to reach the other side in time to begin shooting video of his father carrying the torch.

"I didn't think I was going to make it," he said. "As soon as I saw that he didn't have the torch, I knew I had to get to the other side."

As Conrad lit his torch flame on the south end of the Maroon Creek Bridge in Aspen, a lifetime memory was made.

Waiving to the crowd and shouting a greeting to local television reporter, Bill Engler, Conrad began his memorable run.

When the Conrad family gathers around the television this Friday to watch the opening ceremonies in Salt Lake City, they will delight in the fact that Craig was part of getting the flame to its destination.

"This was definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity," Conrad said. "To be so close to it, to be part of it, it will be special watching the opening ceremonies. My son has already told me, 'Dad, you were part of getting it there.'"

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