On February 4, the Olympic Torch Relay reached Krasnodar, the capital city of the XXII Winter Olympic Games host region.  Arguably the most popular Russian blogger, Ilya “zyalt” Varlamov  has become an Olympic Torchbearer in Kradnodar by invitation of the Coca-Cola Company. Read the today’s reportage on Journey to find out how Ilya carried the Olympic Flame and why he believes that all corporate partners of the Torch Relay would do well to follow Coca-Cola’s example.

Ilya Varlamov is currently Russia’s number one blogger. His Live Journal blog is now at the top of many users’ rating lists. Ilya’s posts mostly focus on his experience traveling to remote, exotic destinations around the world, as well as on city planning and urban amenities, bringing more than 2 million people a month to read his blog.

Several months ago, TCCC invited Varlamov to join the Krasnodar leg of the Olympic Torch Relay, and he happily accepted our offer.

Varlamov shared some details of his experience participating in the Relay in his blog:

“The whole thing starts three hours before the Relay. You have to show up at the Torchbearer Muster Station… Once there, you sign an agreement with the Organizing Committee and get your Torchbearer’s uniform. If you like, you can purchase the Olympic Torch for an additional fee and take it home after you have run your segment in the Relay. The uniform is yours to keep as a gift. The Coca-Cola Company bought out my Olympic Torch for me, for which I am much obliged!

“…Torchbearers come in several different flavors. The first type are celebrities: entertainers, top athletes, politicians of nationwide fame. They will mostly be running in the Relay today and tomorrow in Sochi. Two most important and most awesome legs of the Torch Relay are the Moscow leg early on and the Sochi leg just before the opening ceremony. The next type are prominent or in some way distinguished people from the Relay host regions: former athletes born in a specific region or active in it, hard-working government employees, heroes of labor… And the main type of Torchbearers are those picked by the Olympic Torch Relay sponsors. All sponsors receive a Torchbearers quota which they can allocate as they see fit. Coca-Cola got to pick 30 Torchbearers in Krasnodar, or approximately 10% of the total number carrying the Olympic Flame that day. Coca-Cola organized a large competition, and many of its Torchbearers are common people who filled out an online questionnaire.

“In fact, the Coca-Cola Company treated its Torchbearers most decently among all corporate sponsors. TCCC would meet and greet the Torchbearers, offer them steak for food, guide them everywhere, and even buy the Olympic Torch for them. Everybody else would do very well to follow their example!”

Ilya admits that being an Olympic Torchbearer is a great, unforgettable experience:

“This is simply amazing, I have been waiting for this moment so long! Many people would love to take my place and carry the Olympic Flame; I just got incredibly lucky. It is an awesome feeling to be one of the Torchbearers. And it is terrific that Russia is finally hosting Olympic Games,” Varlamov says. “And the Torch Relay is a huge celebration for the people, the most important, the most significant, the most memorable stage of preparation for the Olympic games. Becoming part of this stage is a great honor for me. When I found out that I’d be a Torchbearer, I felt tremendous joy. A huge thank you to Coca-Cola!”

You can read more about Ilya Varlamov’s experience in the Olympic Torch Relay in his Live Journal blog at http://zyalt.livejournal.com/993082.html