Real Relay reaches Olympic Park ahead of official flame

Real Relay runners leave City Hall The final leg of the Real Relay took about an hour

A group of amateur runners following the route of the Olympic torch relay have reached the Olympic Park - five days ahead of the official flame.

The Real Relay started in Land's End on 28 May, 10 days behind the Games torch, overtaking it in Dover last week.

Unlike the official flame, which stops off overnight, the athletes have run every step of the way, 24 hours a day.

Organisers described reaching the Olympic Park as "overwhelming", despite not being allowed to enter the stadium.

More than 200 runners completed the final five-mile leg from Tower Bridge to the Olympic Park in Stratford, east London, at about 13:45 BST on Sunday.

The route took in parts of the Thames path and several parks and busy roads, but unlike the official torch relay none of the areas were cordoned off.

'Perfect end'

"The streets were parting for us - it was like Moses and the Red Sea. It was very special," said organiser Kate Treleaven.

"I think it will be a memory that will stick in our minds for a very long time.

"It was the perfect way to cap off an eight-week journey."

Organisers came up with the idea for the Real Relay because they were disappointed the official torch was "spending a lot of time in the back of a van".

They recruited more than 2,000 runners from around the British Isles to run the Olympic torch route non-stop, covering 7,377 miles on foot over 55 days and nights. In place of a torch, runners carried a baton with GPS inside allowing people to track its progress.

A comparison of the Olympic torch relay and the Real Relay

The organisers say they expect to raise more than £10,000 for the charity CHICKS, which provides free, week-long respite breaks for disadvantaged children.

They had contacted the Olympics committee to ask if the relay could end with a lap of the stadium in the Olympic Park, like the official one, but London 2012 said this would not be possible.

The official torch relay went from Redbridge, in north-east London, to Bexley, in the south-east of the capital, earlier.

It is due at the stadium on Friday, ahead of the opening ceremony.

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