‘The response blew us away’: mass relay takes baton from Glasgow to Cop27

Olympians, presidents and thousands of kids join Running Out of Time to carry climate plea from school pupils

Transporting a baton 4,800 miles in a non-stop relay from Glasgow to Cop27 in Egypt has come with its fair share of challenges.

One particularly heart-stopping moment came half a mile out in the Channel when an 18-year-old rower, Maddie Plested, tried to pass the baton to a sailor on a boat.

“The tension levels were really high that day,” said Jamie Hay, who co-founded Running Out of Time, the organisation attempting the world record-breaking relay.

“On the first attempt, they didn’t quite pull it off. Maddie’s boat was taking in a lot of water so she was bailing it out with her shoe while trying to hold position. They finally did it on the third try. That was amazing to witness. We’ve had so many passionate young people who have come out to champion this.”

The baton is carrying a message, written in English and Arabic, from children at Sunnyside primary school in Glasgow, calling on leaders at this year’s climate summit to provide young people “with the skills and training to build a sustainable world”.

“We are committed to help build a future that is inclusive and sustainable for all,” it reads. “Show by your actions, not just words, that you are too.”

The mass participation relay has seen hundreds of runners, cyclists and sailors transport the baton on a 38-day route through 18 countries.

“It’s blown us away how people have responded to it. People have got up out of bed at ridiculous times to run the baton through the night,” said Hay. “We’ve had Olympians take part, we’ve had the president of Slovenia take part, probably thousands of kids taking part. Everyone from all walks of life.”

The relay wasn’t the only eco-friendly continent-crossing journey as people made their way to the climate summit in Egypt.

Dan Hodd, 29, set off from Spain over a month ago, and has been cycling, hitchhiking and busking his way across countries on his flight-free journey to Cop27.

“I really wanted to highlight the importance of low carbon travel worldwide, and to illustrate many of the issues I faced for anyone else that might be looking to travel in a more sustainable way,” said Hodd, as he made his way through the desert in Saudi Arabia.

“We just don’t have very good international sustainable connections; everyone ends up being funnelled into taking a grisly flight wherever you want to go.”

Hodd, a British music psychology graduate who busks with his violin to help fund his travels, has previously protested with Scientist Rebellion, and plans to take part in “whatever outreach and activism is possible” when he gets to Egypt.

“The issues that we face in the climate crisis can’t really be detailed through my violin playing but it can certainly pull an audience and create connections,” he said.

But the journey by land has also been a lesson in the how the climate crisis and fossil fuel consumption affect real lives.

“In Iraq, I was having to wear masks all the time when I was cycling, because the air quality was so bad, the smell was so strong. I’ve seen lots of rubbish strewn about the place, water pollution,” he said. “I’ve seen some heartwarming things, but it has also been challenging and harrowing at times.”

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