Olympic torch relay Thursday 31st May 2012 Middleport and Longport
6:40. Longport, Stoke on Trent. Phil’s big day. Enough to get Louise out of bed before 6:00. Weather overcast and occasional light drizzle. Spectators beginning to gather. Torch not due for nearly an hour.
7:00. Policeman says he has heard that the torch has reached Cobridge and is heading down Waterloo Road.
7:20 Police motorbikes drive through. Metropolitan Police! Have they come from London? Must be getting close now. More officials begin to gather.
7:30 Phil arrived by bus with his torch. Can’t say the white track suit suites him but at least it will stand out in the crowd. Phil poses for photos with the crowd. First photo with Louise. Will this be the closest she gets to the Olympics? Phil coached her to significant success as a runner (Midland Region gold and silver medals, 4 top 10 finishes in national cross country) but like many others she dropped out by aged 15.
It was nice to see a lot of the kids Phil coached over the last few years turn up to support him. Maybe they do know how much time and effort he dedicated to them after all.
7:40 The previous runner arrives and Phil’s torch is lit. His moment to carry the flame has arrived.
When Phil sets off we dash off, dodging through the crowd that has now build up, to keep abreast or move ahead for the next photo. With three of us we should get some good pictures all along the route. This one was taken by Tony just before the crowds started.7.43 The atmosphere is very friendly. People call to Phil and he pauses for photos. Everyone can join in. The security men and women jogging along side don’t get in the way. There aren’t any barriers and the spectators can get close. It is all very friendly and Phil is in his element sharing his moment with the crowds – family, friends and strangers…..
and of course the media. The torch bearers’ stories are filling the local press and of course every leg of the relay went out live over the internet.
7:50 Phil reaches the end of his leg of the relay and the flame is transferred into the lamp for its onward journey to Crewe.
The weather had just about held out. The intermittent light drizzle had not dampened the spirits of the crowd.
Phil is picked up by the shuttle buss and the spectators begin to disperse; some to school, some to work, others home for breakfast.
8:15 We just had time to stop off at home for a quick cup of tea before heading off to Macclesfield for our second torch relay leg of the morning.
8:30 Set of for Macclesfield. We take the Bosley route as we know that by now the roads in Congleton will be closed as the torch passes through on route to Macclesfield from Crewe.
9:05 We arrive at Macclesfield leisure centre. We decided this would be the best place to park. We can walk from there the short distance to Broken Cross where Tom will be carrying the torch. Crowds of flag waving people are doing the same.
Olympic torch relay Thursday 31st May 2012 Macclesfield, Broken Cross
9:10 We reach the torch route. It is already crowded. A lot more people than in Longport, but then it later in the day. Appears as though the local schools are all out in force. We meet some fellow members of our running club and wait with them. It is raining hard now and Tom isn’t due until 10:12.There are crowd control people here besides policemen. The crowd is bigger than in Longport, but it wasn’t out of control and it did seem unnecessary to move people back a couple of feet to behind a white line marking at the edge of the road. The police didn’t seem so bothered. Where they were patrolling people were standing in the road.
9:50 According the the live updates (via the iphone) we see the torch has just reached the start of the Macclesfield section. It will be at least 30 minutes to here.
10:10 The police motorcycle riders and then the shuttle bus drive past. Tom must be waiting with his torch to collect the flame and start his run. We can’t see from here.
10:20 A little late but here comes Tom. Big beaming smile all over his face. Smiles and cheers from the very patient and by now sodden crowd. Suddenly for everyone it is worth it. An hour of waiting for 15 seconds of shared Olympic history – and Tom seemed so happy.
10:30 All the crowds are filing back to the leisure centre car park and the kids head off to school.