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Commonwealth Games: This week I start a relay that will cover 118,000 miles, 70 nations and territories in just 288 days

Mark Beaumont
beumont 225x300 Commonwealth Games: This week I start a relay that will cover 118,000 miles, 70 nations and territories in just 288 days

Mark with the torch

I last blogged for The Independent a year ago when my attempt to row the Atlantic in World Record time ended in disaster. Capsized, rescued and counting my lucky stars. It was the closest scrape of my life.

On October 9th I set out on an even more ambitious, but hopefully far less perilous journey, that you are invited to be a part of.

118,000 miles, 70 nations and territories in just 288 days.

The Queen’s Baton Relay is the official journey that invites each Commonwealth Country to the Games and is set to be broadcast across the BBC on TV, radio and online – and yet, as things stand, I expect this is news to most readers. Unlike the Olympic Torch, now a household name after the successes of London 2012, this is, as yet, a little known global event.

Rewinding a step, it may be news to some readers that the Commonwealth Games are coming to Glasgow in the summer of 2014.

For the next eight months it is my job to share the excitement and knowledge and to take, not just you, a UK audience, on a world tour, but also the 2 billion people who live in the Commonwealth.  That may be over ambitious, but the potential is there to touch the lives of millions of people across the globe.  What an incredible tapestry of cultures, of untold stories and of wonderful characters.  Technology brings this brilliant adventure closer than ever imaginable.

By the time I return to the UK with the baton in May, all expectations should be for another glorious home games.

I have spent a lot of my adult life travelling. And yet the more you travel, the more you realise how much there is to see.  I am excited about visiting countries and regions that I may never get a chance to go to again – that I know little about.  I have to admit that when I first looked at the Commonwealth countries, there was one that I had never heard of.  It is a fascinating place, so I will save its blushes from being named here, because of my ignorance.  Have a look and see if you know all 70.

My brilliant team at BBC Scotland has been working hard finding stories to film along the route.  As important as this is, I know from experience that some of the most interesting and wonderful stories can’t possibly be planned.  They are the gems of any travels, the unknown in every day.

So do save the date.  Wednesday October 9th at 10.45am on BBC One and the BBC News Channel, as the Queen places her message to the Commonwealth inside the baton.  And have your bags packed for a whirlwind trip of the Commonwealth. Our first stop is New Delhi, host to the last Commonwealth Games.

On second thoughts, we won’t all fit on the plane. But do follow online at bbc.co.uk/queensbatonrelay, @BBCMarkBeaumont and at facebook.com/bbcqueensbatonrelay

Mark will also be updating on the Queen’s Baton Relay across the BBC, including regular updates on The One Show, BBC Breakfast, Children’s TV, Radio 2, along with BBC News outlets, online and on BBC Scotland.

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