The Olympic torch passed through Maidenhead today and I had the amazing opportunity to watch it pass by. Never in a million years did I think that I would come within 10 feet of the Olympic Flame but I did today. In Maidenhead, three blocks from our house.
About the relay and the Torch
During its 70-day journey, the Olympic Flame will travel to within an hour of 95 percent of people in the UK, the Isle of Man, Guernsey, and Jersey (not to be confused with New Jersey) and will be carried by 8,000 Torchbearers.
The Torch stands 800 millimeters high (31.5 inches) and weighs 800 grams (1.76 pounds). More than half of the London 2012 Torchbearers are expected to be young people, aged as young as 12, so it was critical that the Torch is as light as possible.
Today is day 53 of the 2012 Olympic torch relay and the Torch will travel a total of 26.7 miles from Oxford to Reading via various methods including rowing boat, foot, and horseback. The Torch will pass through several towns including but not limited to Henley-on-Thames, Maidenhead, Ascot, and Windsor. It will exchange hands 60 times today.
Live from the Olympic torch relay in Maidenhead
I arrived at the torch relay road about an hour-and-a-half before the Torch was scheduled to pass by. I saw the two flags below flapping in the wind.
I secured a position at the bottom of a hill near a bend in the road and stood there. And stood there. And stood there. Twenty minutes before the Torch was scheduled to pass by, a lorry driver drove his lorry down the road and then realized that the cars on his lorry were taller than the maximum height for clearing the train bridge. Doh.
The driver’s lapse in judgment caused a huge traffic problem as cars were stacked up behind the lorry. The police arrived on the scene and directed the cars (and lorry) to back-up. The police then removed the barricades blocking a side road and the lorry drove down the side road. Crisis averted.
Finally, it was go-time! The Olympic bus crested the hill and then stopped. At the time, I thought it had stopped for suspense purposes but I later figured out after comparing stories with British Jon that the bus stopped because there was a change in Torchbearers. Jon was located about a half-mile up the hill from me and stated that a male Torchbearer carried the Torch but by the time the Torch reached my position, it was carried by a female, Rebecca Scott.
I had no idea that the Torchbearer was immediately behind the giant bus. All of the spectators around me (including myself) were caught off-guard when the Torch suddenly appeared after the bus passed.
Rebecca wasn’t running at the speed of light or anything but she passed by rather quickly.
An hour-and-a-half wait for a 20-second, never-in-a-lifetime experience.
As a side note, the runners in the gray tracksuits are in it for the long run. Literally.
Bye-bye, Olympic Flame!
Only 17 days to go until Opening Ceremony! Woo hoo!