TENS of thousands of people may have lined the official Olympic torch relay route when it passed through Doncaster last month.
But there were rather fewer out to see a Doncaster railway worker take part in an alternative event following the same route with rather longer stages!
Among those taking part in the long haul run called The Real Relay was Doncaster runner John Pencott, of Auckland Grange, Wheatley.
John ran an 11 mile section of the route, from Rotherham to Warmsworth, carrying the relay’s alternative ‘torch’.
While the official relay had many runners running comparatively short distances, each with their own torch, the alternative run has fewer runners running longer distances and the one, single ‘torch’ is passed from runner to runner.
The whole event is raising money for Chicks, a charity which provides respite breaks for underprivileged children.
John, aged 49, brought the torch into Doncaster having picked it up near the Pentagon Toyota dealership near Rotherham United’s former Millmoor ground at 7.45am.
It had been delayed in reaching him because one of the earlier runners had got lost on his route.
He completed his own 11 mile section, handing over in Warmsworth at 9.30am.
He said: “It is for a good cause and it was a good challenge to get involved in.
“I will never be Olympian, so I think this is probably the closest I will ever get. There certainly weren’t any crowds watching me! There were just people walking their dogs, people going to work, and people waiting for their buses - and I got one or two funny looks, because I was running with what looked like a light sabre from Star Wars!
“At one point I had to go down a dual carriageway without a proper footpath, that was quite hairy.
“I’m afraid not many people know about the relay I did. But I’m glad I did it and I think it was quite an achievement because I had quite a hilly stage.
“I’m in training for the Great North Run, so it was great for that.”
The Real Relay was conceived by an organisation called Endurancelife after seeing the Olympic Torch being bundled into vehicles, rather than continuing on foot, as it journeyed through Cornwall and Devon on the first weekend of the official relay.
They wanted to prove that a continuous running relay around the same route of the Olympic Torch Relay, using grassroots runners from across the British Isles, could be done.
The Olympic Torch route was broken down into stages of 10 to 12 miles and a website was launched - www.endurancelife.com/realrelay - where people could, and still can, sign up to run a stage.
Despite setting out 10 days behind the official Olympic Torch, organisers say their alternative relay is catching up with it and expect to overtake it somewhere on the Kent coast in a couple of weeks’ time.