After the traditional lighting in Greece, the torch underwent an extraordinary journey designed to highlight the geography of Russia. Visiting all 83 constituent entities of Russia and through 2,900 towns and villages, the torch covered the immense area of the world's largest nation, stopping in cities and regions as diverse as Moscow, St.Petersburg, Kaliningrad on the Baltic coast, Murmansk on the Bering Sea, Naryan-Mar north of the Arctic Circle, Magadan on the Sea of Okhotsk, Yelizovo in Kamchatka, Vladivostok on the Muravyov-Amursky Peninsula, Birobidzhan in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast, Irkutsk in Siberia, Yekaterinburg, Cheboksary, Kazan, Kungur in the Ural Mountains, Kursk (site of the largest tank battle in World War II), Volgograd, and Makhachkala on the Caspian Sea, before arriving on day 122 of its journey into Sochi.
The relay also established a range of unique 'firsts' on the way. On day 48 is Listvyanka, the torch was taken down into Lake Baikal, the deepest and highest volume freshwater lake in the world. On day 118, it reached the summit of Mount Elbrus in the Caucasus mountains and the highest point in Europe. The torch even walked in outer space, carried, unlit though, by Russian cosmonauts at the International Space Station - one-upping Atlanta 1996's relay, which only had the torch onboard the space shuttle, but not outside in space. The flame even reached the North Pole, reached from Murmansk and carried by international representatives of the Arctic Council. That trip was the first time the torch had ever been on a nuclear-powered submarine, and, oh by the way, the first time that a ship reached the North Pole during the polar night. Quite a lot of superlatives there.
Over 14,000 torchbearers were used, including noted names as hockey player Alex Ovechkin, synchronized swimmer Maria Kisileva, gymnast Alexei Nemov, cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, weightlifters Alexey Petrov and Alexey Kosov, shooter Marina Logvinenko, chess-player Dinara Dordzhieva, and swimmer Yvengi Sadovyi.
So...Rio...what do you have planned?