Earlier this month we wrote about the alternative torch relays springing up around the country. As part of that we interviewed Kate Treleaven of Real Relay – here’s that interview in full.
The costs of organising the relay were pretty minimal really. We had to employ our freelance web developer to create a Real Relay Facebook application and build a simple website. Since my boss Andrew Barker came up with the idea I’ve been working pretty much seven days a week co-ordinating the Real Relay so I guess by the time we reach London that will be 8 weeks worth of my salary – which isn’t very big!
We had to pay £180 to put the baton in cargo on it’s first flight from Liverpool to Isle of Man but since then all the journeys it’s had to make by air and sea have been free as the air/ferry companies have taken the baton as crew hand luggage. e.g. with Manx Air from Isle of Man to Belfast, P&O Ferries from Larne to Cairnryan, Pentland Ferries from Gills Bay to Orkney, Northlink Ferry from Orkney to Shetland (we actually knew a passenger who was already travellng on that ferry so got them to take the baton with them) Flybe / Logan Air took the baton for free from Lerwick, Shetland to Stornoway, Lewis.
We have a couple more journeys to make out to the Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands and we’re hoping that we will be able to arrange for the baton to travel for free there too.
Logistically, it’s taken us a lot of time breaking the Olympic Torch route down into stages of about 10-12 miles. Each stage has a start and finish point and some have places en route which the runner must go via. This ensures that all communities that were visited by the torch are visited by the Real Relay.
The actual route between the communities is up to the runner but we strongly recommend that they avoid major roads.
Once we’ve worked the stages out we put them online and runners can just sign up to claim a stage. There have been areas where it has been more of a struggle to find runners than others.
In all honesty we have come quite close to the wire on occasions. i.e. phoning round running clubs trying to get someone to run a stage in 6 hours time! But, as momentum grows and word of the Real Relay grows we’re now finding that we have more than enough eager runners wanting to get involved.
Once runners sign up they are sent an email with contact details for the people running before and after them. It’s up to them to ring each other and arrange an exact location for the baton handovers. Everyone follows the online GPS tracker map which shows where the baton is at any time of day.
The bare facts are that we came up with the idea of the Real Relay on Wednesday 23 May, 3 days after seeing the official torch pass through our Devon village. We put the website online on Friday 25 May and we waved our first runner off from Land’s End at midnight on Mon 28 May. So, we managed to set the whole thing up in 5 days.
We don’t want to knock the official torch relay in any way but we do feel that we’ve proved that LOCOG could and should have organised a continuous running relay for the torch. They had 8 years and seemingly bottomless resources to organise it!
Do we need big sponsors to organise a national torch relay? A resounding NO! We certainly haven’t sought sponsorship, and in fact we feel that it’s the simplicity of the Real Relay that is much of the attraction. I can’t help feeling that the organisation would have been a lot more complicated if we’d have got sponsors involved. It was certainly something that we knew we didn’t want right from the start.