A 'Real' Relay

December 15, 2009

So we had a party the other night to celebrate Beth’s Birthday, and I got talking to my friend Andrew about the Olympic Torch Relay. He was a little disappointed to learn that large chunks of the relay are in fact driven, with the torch-bearers only running selected stretches in each major centre. I said, fair enough, but that there was no way that one could actually run a ‘full’ torch-relay that stretched right across the country, it would just take too long.

So we kept talking, and did a little mental math, and he ended up convincing me. It would be totally possible to run a relay right across the country, with every single kilometre run by a torch bearer. Lets have a quick look.

Let’s consider a run from St. Johns to Vancouver. Google Maps tells me that the above path runs about 7,861 km (holy crap Canada is big). This isn’t the shortest path, but one that I’ve edited a bit to closer approximate what a real cross-country relay might look like. This one dips down into Southern Ontario to hit Toronto and Hamilton, and doesn’t go through the US at all.

So, assuming that 7,861 km path, lets round it up a little…say to 9000 km. Why the jump? Well, let’s add distance for little detours along the way, getting off the highway to run it downtown, or to hit that city that’s just out of the way. Plus, 9,000 km is a nice round number.

So. We have the distance, but we need the velocity. For our purposes, I’ve assumed a running speed of 8 km/hr. That’s a really slow jog, but let’s remember that not all torch bearers are going to be Olympic Sprinters. So…what does that give us:

Distance: 9,000 km
Speed: 8 km/hr
Assume: 12 Hour Days (7 AM-7 PM)
Equals: 96 km/day

Equals: 93.75 days to cover 9,000 km

Now I’m probably underestimating things. Like the time it takes to transfer the flame from one person to another, people run slower up hills, maybe not everyone goes 8 km/hr. But still…even with all that, you’re gonna end up with something close to maybe 100 days, give or take.

Considering the real relay is taking 106 days, I think it’s something that could have been totally feasible. According to my back of the napkin math, +1 for Andrew it would seem…


Andrew December 15, 2009 at 6:20 PM  

Well said and props to Scott. I think the math is quite appropriate especially when one considers that the torch could be run round the clock in the more rural parts of Canada.


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This blog is the online chronicle of our adventures leading up to, and including, the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. We hope to give you a little insight into what went into planning our trip and a first hand look at the Games from the ground in Vancouver.

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