Editor Jim Stewart made a not very Olympic-style dash to watch the Torch Relay in Bedford.
“Years of covering community events means you usually have a vibe for what to expect. But Sunday’s Torch Relay was, unsurprisingly, a whole new ball game. Bedford had seen nothing like this before.
How was it going to go? It’s a Sunday morning. Quite early (for some). And it’s raining. How many people will drag themselves out to see it? And will it all be over in a flash?
After parking up I set off for the riverside - and literally the first person I bumped into was Bedford and Kempston MP Richard Fuller.
He had the right idea - an umbrella, something I had completely forgotten in my dash from home - and told me he was looking forward to watching the Relay on the south side of the river.
Still, there wasn’t long to chat as the Torch Relay wasn’t going to wait for me so I first headed towards The Embankment.
I could hear it long before I could see it. The music and party atmosphere was drifting across the Ouse, with the Scottish sounds of bagpipes filling the air. It all sounded very upbeat. They probably weren’t Rangers fans then.
I decided to park myself on the Suspension Bridge over the Ouse, with a vantage point of one of the handovers close to what once was, and who knows may yet be again at some point, the restaurant halfway along The Embankment. By the time I arrived, around 10 minutes before the scheduled Torch arrival, crowds along the road were half a dozen deep. But numbers continued to swell over the next few minutes.
And via Twitter, colleagues reported the Relay was running a few minutes later.
The first spectacle to arrive were the sponsor lorries, there to whip up the crowds with music, dancers and, erm, wavers. And to be fair, I’ll give full marks to anybody who can dance and wave in excitement on a wet lorry at 9.30am in the morning.
From there there’s a bit of a gap in proceedings - good to see the police getting the spirit of the occasion just right with officers on motorcycles high-fiving the crowds as they cleared the route.
Sunday morning events are always amusing. You have the wonderful mix of over-excited children accompanied by parents, some cheerful, some visibly less keen on having their Sunday morning hangover lie-in disturbed.
They had to wait another ten minutes before the Torch arrived. For those who weren’t there it may seem strange that somebody holding a Torch and jogging down a road could excite and energise a crowd. But it did. The cheers were big, the support was there and ironically the drizzly, gloomy weather seemed to unite participants and spectators in what we all refer to as The Great British Spirit even more.
Once the Torch continued down The Embankment it was time for me to attempt a cross-country bid myself and catch the Relay further along. In what was possibly the first run I have attempted on a Sunday morning since once, on holiday, realising the hotel cooked breakfast buffet was about to close, I headed across Fenlake Road and took my position on London Road just in time to see the dancers and wavers come by.
I’m sure it was a Harold Abrahams moment to behold - not - although to be fair he didn’t have a pad, a pencil, a notebook, a camera to carry and was probably not working off a restaurant meal the night before.
London Road near the Mecca bingo was a little quieter but the levels of enthusiasm were just as high. Every second person had a camera on them, although grabbing decent pictures when everybody else is doing the same as runners jog by at a reasonable lick is not that easy.
I then followed the Relay down London Road and the crowds became ever more sizeable, with a carnival atmosphere at the Sant Nirankari Mission - traditional food and music to entertain the crowds.
It is all over in a few minutes, heading off to Harrowden Road and to Cotton End. And once it’s gone the streets cleared quickly, back to a quiet Sunday morning.
But for those who saw it, it was one to remember, and I’d say it was definitely worth giving up a Sunday morning lie-in for.”
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Weather for Bedford
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 4 C to 9 C
Wind Speed: 29 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 6 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: North