Pupils in the Yorkshire villages of Rufforth and Tockwith were paid a surprise visit on Wednesday as Wetherby Runners president and founder, Rob Gray, took a 4 mile detour during leg 356 of the Real Relay.
The Real Relay has been set up as an alternative to the Official Olympic Torch Relay currently travelling around the country. It follows the same route but unlike the official relay, the Real Relay uses just one torch, is carried completely on foot and has no breaks in its journey. Hundreds of runners have signed up to run one of the various 10 to 20 mile segments of the event. All participants are asked to donate a minimum of £10 to CHICKS - a charity providing week-long respite breaks for disadvantaged children from across the UK.
Kate Treleaven, from event organisers Endurancelife, explains: "The idea came about when we saw the official torch come to our villages down in Devon. We lined the streets full of excitement but felt a sense of deflation when we saw the torch being bundled into a minibus and driven away onto its next location. We genuinely thought it was going to be run between the communities. So instead of sitting around moaning about it, we decided to set up our own relay."
Organisers encourage runners to create their own route, so Rob decided to increase his to take in villages the official torch relay had missed out. He travelled from Little Ouseburn to York Minster via Whixley, Cattal, Tockwith, Long Marston, Rufforth and Acomb.
He said of his decision: "I wanted to ensure that the baton covered areas the original baton didn't. It's really captured the imagination of the people who just expected a little bit more of the official one and were quite disappointed when the runners hadn't really taken it the full distance."
He particularly enjoyed visiting the two schools, saying: "The teachers had done a great job of briefing the kids about the event. They were all really enthusiastic and I was able to run a lap of the school field. Although it was only a brief stop off, the younger ones who didn't see the official torch relay in York said that this more than made up for it."
For more information visit the Endurancelife website.