On 17 November 1956, forty six fit, local men relayed the Olympic Torch from Kew in the North to Burrell Creek in the South of the region, a grand total of 46 miles. The first runner departed Kew at 1534 hours sharp and the final runner completed the section at 2020 hours in Burrell Creek.2
The event was staged like a military operation with each runner being required to complete one mile (1.60934 km) in six minutes.The runners trained three nights a week at Taree Park (Johnny Martin Oval) carrying a wooden 1½ lb replica which was the identical weight to the real torch.3
In November 1998, Taree Council invited some of the relay runners to a ceremony to announce that Taree would again be on the torch route for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. “Some remember training in bare feet, while others tell of burning eyebrows and hair. It had to be held away from the body otherwise the sparks burnt the arm and clothing. Moreover, if you held it in front, smoke fumes billowed straight into your mouth!”4 This was a far cry from the streamline, self igniting, fibreglass torch used in the relay of 2000. The pace was also more leisurely and there was a noticeable upgrade in running attire!
Author: Philip Solomon
1 Rex Solomon collection.
2 NSW AAA Taree Branch Olympic relay organisation notes 1956.
3 Manning River Times, 3 November 1998.