The tradition of the Olympic torch relay began for the 1936 Games. In the decades since, the relay's route has traveled near and far, high and low, transporting the Olympic flame from Athens to the upcoming competition's host city.

Today, the torch arrived in Moscow, having been picked up by Russian hockey superstar Alex Ovechkin in Athens last week. From there, it will traverse more than 65,000 km (40,389 mi) in the hands of more than 14,000 people across 123 days. Final destination: Sochi, home of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Just how long is that? Well, the relay plans to cross into all 83 regions of Russia, the largest country in the world. To give us some perspective, it's the longest planned torch relay for any Winter Olympics ever. And it trails only two Summer Olympics relays, behind only the 86,000 km (53,437 mi) for Athens 2004 and the record-longest 137,000 km (85,127 mi) of Beijing 2008.

To give us more perspective, here are how some other record-worthy distances stack up against the epic Olympic route which begins today.



The inherent advantage of Sochi 2014 in the relay distance records is, of course, that it takes place within Russia, tops among all nations for landmass.

Thus it's no surprise that another impressive journey record was also set entirely within the country. The longest journey by car in a single country was 15,793 km (9,813.3 miles) and was achieved by Gennadij Paramonov, Alexey Vorobiev, Alexander Nesterov, Andrey Ivanov, Ilya Novikov, Alexey Simakin, Rafael Usmanov and Denis Solomovich (all Russia), plus Rainer Zietlow (Germany). They drove three Volkswagen Amaroks from Moscow to Petropavlovsk in a journey that ran from Feb. 8 to April 4, 2013.

Similarly, there's the longest motorcycle journey in a single country (route map shown above). American Steven Siler hit the open road alone from June 4-30 this year, crossing 29,034.23 km (18,041 miles) of U.S. roads.


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Of course the draw of the Olympic relay is that it's done mostly on foot or, failing that, primarily by some sort of human power.

One of the more incredible such distances in our records is that for the longest journey on crutches. Guy Amalfitano (above) of France traversed 4,004.12 km (2,488.04 miles) in 2011, making his way across France averaging 30 km (18.64 mi) per day.

If anybody on the Olympic torch relay wants to get cute and try walking backwards, they'll have a way to go before catching Plennie Wingo. From April 1931 to October 1932, Wingo walked the longest journey backwards, starting in Santa Monica, California, and ending in Istanbul, with the assistance of some cross-ocean travel. In total, Wingo logged 12,875 km (8,000 mi).



While the efforts of those using nothing more than their human will are probably most impressive, you won't get nearly as far as if you've got a little help.

Miroslav Oros, for one, took to the skies for the longest journey by powered paraglider (above). For three months in 2011, he went up and down to notch 9,132 km (5,674.35 mi) in the wild blue yonder.

And while that in-Russia car journey above was impressive, it's got nothing on the achievement for longest driven journey overall. Showing that love can conquer all - even decades without a home - Emil and Liliana Schmid left Switzerland in their Toyota Land Cruiser in October 1984. Since then, with no permanent home address, they've driven more than 668,485 km (413,653 miles) across 172 different countries and territories.

So the Sochi relay certainly finds itself in some amazing company. And we've got a feeling that 123 days from now, the records will only just begin falling.