Runners had a hard time

April 10, 2008 6:31:31 PM PDT
The Bay Area didn't get to see most of the runners in the torch relay because of the changes in security. But, we caught up to some of them to find out about their experiences.

This is the afterglow, the return to normal life for three extraordinary people who carried an Olympic torch, on Wednesday.

Helen Zia, a noted Asian American author from Oakland, knows you probably didn't see her.

"It went so quickly. Like a few seconds," said Zia.

16 year old Morgan Montoya of Benicia, can't even tell you what street she was on.

"It's pretty cool. Except for getting a permit, but I think it tops that," said Montoya.

And in San Francisco, 76 year old Vladimir Prikupetz may have set an Olympic record, by doing this a fourth time.

"Does anyone in the world have more torches than you?" ABC7's Wayne Freedman asked.

"I don't think so," said Prikupetz.

They describe a day of vivid memories. A two hour wait on the bus and then the Mayor telling them of a route change that felt more like a Greyhound Tour.

"I take the city at its word that they didn't know what to do at until the last minute," said Zia.

"It was like a police state. It was like war time. Police cars, bicycles. Grerr. It was unbelievable," said Prikupetz.

And certainly not the grand, happy parade for which organizers had hoped. Not with Tibet and Darfur upstaging the messages of torchbearers. Vladimir, for freedom from oppression. Morgan for the needs of special kids and their siblings. Helen, for recognition of gay and lesbian marriages.

"I'm left with the feeling that people are more entrenched in their positions. And that is not why I carried the torch. I carried it for the exact opposite reason," said Zia.

And yet, each of yesterday's torchbearers told us they would happily do this again.

But there is one more twist to Vladmir's torch adventure. It has to do with his car. He parked on O'Farrell Street, thinking he had plenty of time to return. But not after the Mayor took the bus to the airport. By the time he arrived, his car was gone, but he did get a ticket for $285 dollars.

"The lesson is to not change the road," said Vladmir.


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