Analysis: Gentle jog of just 300 metres and it is over all too quickly

The 'kissing' of the torches. Picture: Robert Perry
The 'kissing' of the torches. Picture: Robert Perry
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IT’S all over in no time. Even if you go at just a gentle jog, those 300 metres peter out before you know it, and your short part in the Olympic Torch Relay is over.

You want it to carry on for far longer, because unless you’re a rock star or similar, you have never before had thousands of people cheering your every move.

But the shuttle bus arrives to whisk you back to your base, and the torchbearing convoy carries on southwards, approaching ever closer to London, where, at the opening ceremony on 27 July, the last bearer will light the cauldron in the Olympic stadium itself.

Ten of us carried the torch through Dumfries yesterday, its last day in Scotland. Some of us had been nominated by Bank of Scotland, some by other “presenting partners” of the relay; and whatever our reason for being there, wherever we came from, we were all equally nervous.

We began with a briefing on how the event worked. “You may worry that you’re going to fall over,” we were told. “You won’t.

“You may think you’re going to drop the torch. You won’t.”

This confidence in our ability was based on flimsy grounds, as the man addressing us had never met us before, but that somehow made it all the more reassuring.

Then we set off in the bus, to be dropped one by one at our starting points, and the nerves gave way to excitement.

Big crowds have become the norm for the relay in big cities, but no-one – not even the local runners – was prepared for such a large turnout in Dumfries. “I didn’t know so many people lived here,” as one of them said.

The narrow streets in the town centre were packed, as expected, but so was Annan Road on the way out of town.

The families and friends of the local torchbearers were there in numbers, but there were so many more who had no personal connection with the relay, other than the desire to offer their support. And all of them, it seemed, wanted their photo taken with the torch.

It is that enthusiasm which will remain the abiding memory of the day for this runner at least.

A positive, unqualified enthusiasm which has united all ages in every community that the torch has passed through.