Matthew De Groot passes the Queen?s Baton to Norma Romeril, during the Queen?s Baton Relay, which travelled through the Coffs C
Matthew De Groot passes the Queen?s Baton to Norma Romeril, during the Queen?s Baton Relay, which travelled through the Coffs C

Passing the Queen?s baton

By MEL MARTIN

DIMITY Newsome, 12, initially couldn't believe she would be running the Queen's Baton Relay, but yesterday definitely wasn't a dream.

"It was the most amazing thing I've ever done. It was so exciting to be part of history," Dimity said.

Although she was very nervous at first, particularly when she saw news reports of the baton landing in Sydney, once Dimity had that baton in her hand, she said she didn't want it to end.

Having travelled for almost 12 months over sea, land and air, via thousands of relay runners and on many different modes of transport ? from bicycle and wheelchair to hot air balloon, steam train and even on elephant and horseback ? the Queen's Baton arrived in Coffs Harbour yesterday.

From Port Macquarie, the baton travelled its fifth day of a 50-day Australian journey through Kempsey, Frederickton, Macksville, Nambucca Heads, Urunga, Sawtell and Coffs Harbour, before finishing at Park Beach Reserve.

But it was tough going for the unfortunate runners who scored a hill, like Sandy Bruce.

"I got tired at the top of the hill. The baton started to feel really heavy," she said.

"I saw the next runner about 100 metres ahead and he seemed a long way away, but I toughed it out!"

And Sandy, who also ran the 2000 Olympics Torch Relay, managed to run the whole way, thanks to lots of training that saw both her dogs get much fitter and skinnier.

The Coffs Coast community got behind its runners, lining the baton's route through the day to cheer them on.

"It felt really great to see everyone around you, the crowd on your side, cheering and clapping," another runner, Trevor Wilson, said.

His work didn't end there, though. He was involved in the welcome at Park Beach Reserve and will do the smoking ceremony this morning to see the baton off.

Today, the baton will continue its 180,000 kilometre journey, which has taken it through all 71 nations of the Commonwealth in one year and a day, making it the world's longest, most inclusive relay.

It will arrive in Melbourne on March 15, for the Melbourne 2006 XVIII Commonwealth Games opening ceremony.

If you want to cheer our runners today, the baton will leave Coffs Harbour CBD at 8.05am, after a sausage sizzle which starts at 6.30am and a smoking ceremony. It will head along Harbour Drive, Orlando Street, Hogbin Drive North and Arthur Street, up the Pacific Highway to arrive at the Big Banana at 8.55am.

At Woolgoolga, the relay will start at the Sikh Temple in River Street about 9.15am and travel along High Street, Nightingale Street, Waterloo Street, Queen Street and along Beach Street to the highway roundabout, before being whisked off to Grafton.



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