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Blue skies greet relay around lake
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09:00, June 24, 2008

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Blue skies, white clouds and the diamond shades of Qinghai Lake combined yesterday to create a picturesque backdrop for the latest leg of the Olympic torch relay around China's largest saltwater lake.

The two-hour run covered 6 km and involved 162 torchbearers, including 47 ethnic Tibetans and three foreigners. Crowds of people, mostly Tibetans dressed in traditional costumes and holding hada (scarves worn as a sign of welcome) to present to guests, lined the route.

"It's a beautiful location and I love to see all the lively faces of the locals, especially the children," torchbearer Christopher Thomas, deputy general manager of Intel China, said.

Another runner, 40-year-old Yang Yanli, who has been promoting cycling among the public for the past 23 years, completed her "run" on a bicycle. She said it served to remind people that since 2002, the lake has been the setting for the annual Tour De Qinghai Lake International Cycling Race and was a demonstration of "our commitment to host a Green Olympics".

The torch will today complete its tour of Qinghai in the provincial capital Xining. It will then travel to Shanxi province instead of Gansu province as scheduled.

The Shanxi relay will span three days, BOCOG said on its website.

The torch will then travel to the cultural site Dunhuang of Gansu province and then on to the other four cities in Gansu province on Sunday.

The rescheduling was made to give Gansu, which was hard hit by the May earthquake, more time to prepare, BOCOG said.

A number of changes have been made to the original route since the May 12 quake, it said.

The Sichuan leg has been put back to Aug 3, and the flame's journey was halted altogether from May 19 to 21, as a mark of respect for the victims of the quake.

The Shanxi relay will start tomorrow morning in the city of Yuncheng, which is famed for its many salt lakes.

In the afternoon it will move to Pingyao, an ancient walled city and World Cultural Heritage site, Li Zhensheng, vice-director of the Shanxi sports bureau, said.

On Thursday, it will pass through Taiyuan, the provincial capital, and reach Datong, the "City of the Coal" on Friday.

A total of 624 torchbearers will carry the torch in Shanxi.

Source: China Daily

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