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Non-stop journey to Glasgow

IT has criss-crossed through Asia all the way to the other side of the globe, but there is no rest for the Queen's Baton Relay over the festive period.

Since October, the Queen's Baton has been passed by hand on an epic journey throughout the entire Commonwealth ahead of the 2014 Games in Glasgow.

It has already visited 21 of the 70 nations and territories, taking in sites such as the Taj Mahal and Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Over the past month, it has visited numerous islands in the South Pacific including Tonga, the Cook Islands and the Solomon Islands.

The island of Nauru declared a national holiday to honour the baton's visit, while in Samoa, batonbearers were escorted by guards for the head of state to visit his residence in Apia.

In Kiribati, the relay team met 18-year-old Taoriba Biniati, who is the only girl practising boxing on the island - along with 700 boys.

Then in the run-up to ­Christmas, the baton visited Niue. With only 1400 people who call the island home, it has the smallest population of any of the Commonwealth nations or territories.

Following on from Niue, the baton touched down in Norfolk Island and then Vanuatu, where it spent Christmas Day.

Over the next few days, the baton will be carried by athletes from cricket and volleyball alongside past Commonwealth Games competitors.

Vanuatu will be the last stop in the South Pacific before it journeys all the way to Sierra Leone, where the relay will start moving again in the New Year.

Scottish cyclist and adventurer Mark Beaumont is currently following the baton's journey round the Commonwealth for a series of programmes for the BBC.

Speaking after the first leg of his journey in the Pacific, he said: "This journey has taken me through a fascinating pattern of Pacific Islands through to New Zealand, which is about as far as I could get from the Commonwealth Games back in Glasgow.

"Most of these islands are incredibly minute compared to the Pacific Ocean which they share and includes some of the smallest populations and most remote nations in the world. But that doesn't stop them ­dreaming big.

"As well as inspiring sporting greatness, I've seen a real passion to protect what is unique, That includes ancient family traditions as well as diversity."

The relay, which is much like the Olympic relay, acts as a symbol of unification of all the nations and territories which will take part in the 2014 Games.

Taking 288 days, the baton will cover around 118,060 miles and will be carried by thousands of batonbearers who have been chosen by their own nations to participate.

After Sierra Leone it will travel through Africa before making the jump to St Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean and onwards to the Caribbean and Canada.

It will average between one and four days in each nation, but will spend seven days in Wales and 14 in England before an extended 40-day tour around Scotland in the summer.

During this domestic leg, more than 4000 baton bearers will travel through more than 400 villages, towns and cities across the country, showcasing the role sport plays in local communities.

At the start of the relay at ­Buckingham Palace, the Queen wrote a message on parchment and placed it within the heart of the baton, making up its visual core.

She will read the message out when the relay comes to a close at Celtic Park on July 23 to signal the start of the Games.

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