Mystery runners as Olympic Torch Relay comes to St Albans

THE identity of two runners in this weekend’s Olympic torch relay through St Albans, possibly celebrities, is to remain a mystery until the day of the historic event.

The Olympic flame will enter the district along Hatfield Road at 4.06pm this Sunday.

It will be carried by torch-bearers along Hatfield Road from its junction with Charlotte Close, near Oaklands College, crossing over St Peter’s Street into Catherine Street, along Folly Lane, joining Verulam Road before finishing near the Batchwood roundabout.

From Oysterfields the flame will be placed inside one of two convoys at 4.50pm to transport it to Hemel Hempstead via Bluehouse Hill and Hemel Hempstead Road.

Twelve of the 14 torchbearers aged between 12 and 81 successfully nominated to carry the torch already know which leg of the relay they will carry the flame.

However the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) will not reveal the names of the final two runners until Sunday morning.

Torch-bearers include Claire Weston, 34, a Year 5 teacher at Colney Heath School, and Heart FM presenter Natalie B of St Albans.

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Kate Thomas, also of St Albans, was successfully nominated after fostering more than 40 children.

St Albans district council is encouraging people to enjoy the “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to watch the relay and support runners ahead of London 2012.

Activities taking place along the route include:

n Fleetville recreation ground (1.30-5pm): play in the parks, music, ultimate frisbee, zumba, salsa;

n Clarence Park (2-4.30pm): sports, St Albans City Football Club open for refreshments, bouncy castle, mobile climbing wall;

n City centre (1.30-5pm): judo demos, zumba, play in the parks, street entertainers.

Pubs and various churches have also organised entertainment, with some offering the likes of tea and scones and tower tours.

In addition, local people, community groups and clubs are having parties and celebrations, with many open to the public.

Between noon and 5pm at Victoria playing fields there is a cricket match, music, tug-of-war, face painting, rugby demos, stilt walkers and refreshments. Oysterfields will be hosting play in the parks, music and rugby between 2-5pm.

In the wake of an incident where two young boys recently tried to snatch the Olympic torch from a runner in Coventry, Herts Police have warned the public against copycat attempts.

A spokesperson said: “Let everyone have a fun day when the torch comes to your town.”

With large crowds expected, St Albans district council has advised spectators to line the route early for a good view, about an hour before the flame arrives.

Cllr Mike Wakely, portfolio holder for sports, said: “We have gone to town on the bunting and there are flags designed by local children to wave as we cheer the runners on.”

He said there would be a real “buzz” in St Albans as there was also the farmers’ market, Freedom Parade and Wheathampstead Village Day.

A spokesman for Herts county council has urged motorists to drive carefully through St Albans because of the increased number of pedestrians expected on the roadside.

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