CROWDS of people poured onto the streets for their first glimpse of the Olympic torch as it passed through the area.
The Leicester to Peterborough route was trialled today (Friday) as it is one of the most challenging routes. It included 110 torchbearers who all carried their own torches and touched them together as though they were passing along the Olympic flame.
The trial allowed organisers to test the technicalities of the torch travelling on trains and a boat, as well as through rural and urban areas.
The torch passed through Langham and Oakham and went across Rutland Water and then through Uppingham before heading to Stamford and Burghley House. It will follow the same route on July 3.
There was a rolling road closure as the torch, which started its day in Leicester, passed through.
It arrived in Langham slightly later than planned at about 2.20pm
Vehicles representing sponsors Lloyds TSB, Coca Cola and Samsung led the way followed the torchbearer.
Caroline Crawler, from Waltham-on-the-Wolds near Melton, watched the torch pass with her mother Yvonne Bailey, who lives in Cold Overton Road, Langham.
Mrs Crawler said: “I just thought I would come out and have a look. It’s quite nice for it to come through places like Langham and Oakham because people do tend to forget about little places.
“We will definitely come out and see it when it comes through on July 3.
For some onlookers in Langham there was a bit of confusion because the torch convoy was split into two sections. After the first section, which included the sponsors’ trucks, went past some people thought that was it and left. The second part of the convoy came through moments later with the torchbearer. Organisers say it will be different on the day itself.
For those that stayed they seemed to enjoy the spectacle and were pleased the drizzle made way for a bit of sunshine.
After Langham, the torch made its way to Oakham where people waited patiently for it to arrive.
At Rutland Water, about 200 people gathered on the Whitwell shores, including press, organisers and members of the public, who put up with the light rain to see the torch being carried onto a waiting boat by torchbearer Paul Wood. He posed for photographs while organisers made sure he was wearing the correct safety gear. He then set out on a boat which met another boat on the water where there was another handover. The second boat landed at Normanton shore.
The torch then continued onto Uppingham where the streets were packed with people who braved pouring rain to see the torch. But the clouds opened and the sun came out as the first bus in the convoy came around the corner.
Liz Pollard, who lives in Uppingham, came out to see the torch with her five-year-old son Bailey.
Asked if he was looking forward to seeing the torch, Bailey enthusiastically screamed: “Yes!”
Liz added: “We will come out on the day but I came out today out of curiosity.”
The torch arrived in Stamford at about 4.50pm - slightly later than anticipated. People packed Red Lion Square and High Street as it passed through.
One of the torchbearers was Stamford Queen Eleanor School pupil Luke Watson, 15, who carried the torch from the Town Bridge, up High Street St Martin’s and to the Barnack Road junction.
Afterwards he said: “It went well and it was a really great experience.”
Luke, of Wittering, is a sports ambassador for the school which put him forward to take part in the rehearsal.
Helena Bates, 50, from Northumberland, was visiting the area with her husband and was shocked to find out the torch dress rehearsal was taking place.
She said: “It was excellent, very impressive and a great atmosphere. On the day it will be fabulous, it’s a taste of what’s to come.”
Vicki Miley, 28, of Priory Gardens, Stamford, watched the torch parade with her 17-month-old son Xander, who was sporting an Olympics t-shirt.
She said: “It’s fabulous and the only chance in our lifetimes we will get to see it.”
Shop staff at F Hinds in Stamford came out to watch.
Sue Porter, who watched with her colleagues Sarah Chiverton, Katie Hallan and Kylie Smart, said: “It was more than I thought it was going to be.
“We all enjoyed coming out into the sunshine to watch it.”
Joan Bales, 68, from Morton, said: “I was really looking forward to it, but there was only one lot of dancing and the rest was coaches.
“I am looking forward to the Olympics, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event.”
And Eddie Roberts, 20, of Stamford, said: “It was very energetic. Seeing it through Stamford is quite unique, it’s the only time were going to get to see it.”
The torch then made its way to Burghley House in Stamford, where the torchbearers ran down the Avenue and up to the courtyard in front of the mansion house.
The torchbearers posed for photographs as they exchanged the torch in front of the house, watched by Burghley House director Miranda Rock.
Afterwards Mrs Rock revealed that she had invited chairman of the London 2012 Organising Committee Lord Coe to be present at the exchange on July 3.
She said: “We do hope that Lord Coe will be visiting on the day. We have very strong connections with the Olympics as my grandfather was the Seb Coe of the 1948 Olympics so it will be rather lovely and we are thrilled to think that he is coming here.
“Today has been a fantastic taster of what is to come on July 3. It is very exciting for us all.”
After the torch left the house, at about 5.40pm, it made its way to Nene Valley Railway where it travelled onboard to Peterborough.
London 2012 organisers, who were kitted out in grey tracksuits, carried extra torches and a lantern to ensure the Olympic flame doesn’t go out during its long journey.
The torch’s are replicas of those that will be carried on the day, but were unlit today.
On July 4, the torch relay will also pass through Market Deeping, Thurlby and Bourne.
Lord Coe said: “The dress rehearsal is a great opportunity to test all parts of the Olympic torch relay. I would like to thank the host local authorities and police forces for working with us on this rehearsal.
“Tests are essential to ensure the smooth running of our operations around the torch relay. When all the final elements are added for the relay itself the excitement will really build for the start of the London 2012 Games and the UK will get its moment to shine.”