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PostSubject: Commonwealth Games   Thu Jul 24, 2014 10:33 am

My Scottish wife (born in Glasgow) and I watched the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games on TV last night. Not only was it a spectacular event but it brought back some happy and emotional memories for me from the sixth Commonwealth games held in Cardiff in 1958
As a nineteen year old member of Reading Athletic Club I was chosen to carry the Queens message baton on one of the legs between Reading and Wallingford, it was during the night at 2.00am. see link [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

On 14 July 1958, the baton relay set off from the forecourt of London’s Buckingham Palace, the residence of Queen Elizabeth, Head of the Commonwealth, before travelling through several English counties and all thirteen Welsh on its journey to Cardiff. Unfortunately, owing to illness, the Queen was unable to hand her message to the opening runners, namely Dr Roger Bannister, the first sub-four-minute miler, escorted by fellow 1954 Games champions [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] ... nister.jpg Her place was taken by the relay organiser, Commander Collins, who placed the message inside the baton;
a cap on one end being secured by a spring catch, thus avoiding the need for a key. In order to prevent damaging the baton en route, the message was transferred to a metal replica version following the relay’s second stage, which, for security reasons, was fitted with a lock. The ceremonial silver baton then resumed its duties on the final changeover, carried, message safely inside, by the last runner.

A total of 664 athletes, I WAS ONE OF THESE including 32 schoolboys, were involved in the relay, which covered more than 600 miles over almost four days.

One runner from each club, service unit and school in each county was given a stage to run. The seniors ran two-mile legs while the juniors ran a mile. The run continued day and night, seniors being used in dense traffic conditions and, where possible from midnight to 6.00am.

An official car followed directly behind the runner throughout to protect him from unofficial cycle or motor car escorts, to light the road at night, and to enable the section organisers to keep the time-table correct. Speeds varied as necessary from 6.5 to 7.5 minutes to the mile, thus ensuring that there was no idea of a race and to allow spectators to be shown the baton at take-over points.
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