“The last year that the race was run was in 2008, and I have to say, in terms of Gastown, it was the most exciting thing that I’ve ever been a part of," explains Warren Roy, CEO of Global Relay, "And when you recognize that you’re watching current and ex-Olympians, some of the best racers from across Canada and the United States, you get a real sense of pride that Gastown itself is hosting this event."
Back in November, Warren and his team of 150 employees who occupy an open-spaced firm on the corner of Cambie and Water (maybe some of the best seats in the house on race day), began working out the logistics of taking on the iconic event.
Gastown’s first Crit began in July of 1973 and garnered over 5,000 spectators to the community, solidifying it's place as an annual event for the next twenty years. "We’ve seen over the years many different national team athletes and Olympians race here: Gina Grain (2008), Alison Sydor (1991), Brian Walton (1988)… The list goes on and on,” explains John Tolkamp, President of The Canadian Cycling Association. When it was called off in 2008 due to lack of sponsorship, it was only a matter of waiting for someone to take on the duty of organizing the annual event again.
The Water St. crowds have grown up to 30,000 at past July races, while racers blow by, lapping up Water and down Cordova again, some in hopes of launching their own careers right then and there. “Undoubtedly, out of this will be stories five, ten, twenty years from now of athletes that saw this race, participated in it, and have gone on to great national and professional careers,” John continues.
Ryan Anderson is one of those athletes who began in the streets of Gastown as an amateur, eventually returning to the race again, this time as a professional. “I raced here as an amateur myself and then I raced the last year on a professional team in 2008, so to have the chance to come back and do it again with another professional team, SpiderTech, it'd be an honour for me,” he says.
While it's several months away still, there is much to be done in order to get an event this big in full swing. Be a part of the action - register to volunteer or participate now at http://globalrelayggp.org/.