Judy Shaw wanted to see first hand what the 2010 Olympic torch looked like.
"It's great," she said Monday in Whistler where the torch was visiting the Royal Bank as part of an awareness tour.
"I'm planning on being here for the Olympics and I thought why not start now when we had an opportunity to see this prototype of the torch."
Said Paralympian Andrea Holmes who was showing everyone the torch in Whistler: "Carrying the torch, you feel so proud."
"In my whole sporting career the two favourite moments in my whole life were walking into the ceremonies in Athens (Summer Olympics 2004) and getting to run in the torch relay. Of all those days and all those moments the torch is a highlight."
Both sponsors of the torch relay, Coca-Cola and RBC, are on tours to encourage people to sign up to carry the torch.
"Two thirds of our spots are being drawn at the end of May so we are really putting a big push on," said Kristen Mihailides, Coca-Cola's communications manager, adding that there have been well over three-quarters of a million entries so far.
RBC and Coca-Cola can give away almost half of the 12,000 spots.
"From our perspective we are exceeding our expectations in terms of enthusiasm, in terms of response for the communities, and in terms of people getting on board and wanting to host the celebrations," said Jim Richards director of torch relays for the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Games.
People have until July 15 to sign up through RBC, which has 2,350 spots to give away.
"To date we have had hundreds of thousands of people apply through the contest," said RBC spokeswoman Jackie Braden, adding that people are invited to come see the torch May 5th at RBC North Vancouver at 17th and Lonsdale, and Park Royal. On May 6th, the Torch will be at RBC in Dollarton and also Lynn Valley.
"We want to encourage as many people as we can to apply as it is a random draw," said Braden.
The Torch will travel 45,000 km over 106 days. The relay route will visit every province and territory in Canada and will be accessible by a one-hour drive to more than 90 per cent of the Canadian population.
The Government of Canada is providing $24.5 million to ensure that the Olympic and Paralympic Torch Relays bring the excitement of the Games to communities throughout Canada.
Details of how this money will be allocated have just been released.
This includes a $12 million contribution towards the organization of the Olympic and Paralympic Torch Relays and a $12.5 million contribution to local initiatives to support community celebrations.
The Government of Canada will provide support to:
• Feature local artists across Canada during local community celebrations ;
• Enhance the programming for celebrations that will take place in Canada's provincial and territorial capitals, in the Olympic cities of Montreal and Calgary, and in Canada's capital, Ottawa ;
• Create innovative projects reaching out to young people across Canada to commemorate the Olympic flame's trip through their community ;
• Ensure that all Canadians remember the journeys of the Olympic and Paralympic torches through their communities with commemorative products;
• Promote the Torch Relays and the Olympic adventure during the nationally-televised Canada day celebration on Parliament Hill.
"Six months from now, the Olympic Torch Relay will start on a journey of more than 45,000 kilometres that will touch the hearts of thousands of Canadians in more than 1,000 communities across the country," said Minister of State for Sport Gary Lunn, in a statement about the funding announcement.
"The Torch Relays will bring Canadians together, inspiring local and national pride in the spirit of the Games. "
Not only will the torch be carried by hand, foot, plane and convoy, but the route plans will feature up to 100 different modes of transportation, including First Nations canoe , horse-drawn carriage , cross-country skis , kayak , snowmobile , and tractor.
Information on how Canadians can apply to become torchbearers is available on iCoke.ca, sogoactive.com or rbc.com/carrythetorch.