By PHIL THOMSON
RODNEY Nugent was calm carrying the Queen's baton until he jogged into Westport Park and saw hundreds of people waiting for him.
"It really hit home as I came into Westport Park and saw the crowd cheering û the emotions were pretty high," Mr Nugent said.
"It was great, sort of unbelievable."
The Port Macquarie-Hastings had 27 baton carriers, many of whom ran on Saturday afternoon through Port Macquarie while a handful carried it yesterday morning at the start of its journey to Coffs Harbour.
Mr Nugent was the final runner on the fourth day of the baton's 50-day journey around Australia.
It travelled 288kms from Newcastle on Saturday.
Watched by his three sons, wife, workmates, other relay runners and the many spectators, one of Mr Nugent's main aims was to not trip over.
"I was trying to take it all in but at the same time concentrate on what I was doing," he said.
"Everything went to plan.
"It was an honour to carry the baton onto the stage in Port Macquarie."
Wauchope's Pam Dures carried the baton around seven hours earlier in Forster.
She was puffed after her 400m despite walking 4km three times a week leading up to the event.
"It was a lot heavier than what I thought it would be," Mrs Dures said.
"I was thinking æI'll be glad when I see the young fella I'm going to hand it to'."
After recovering Mrs Dures drove to watch the baton's Port Macquarie leg, which included her son Martin Dures pushing fellow baton-carrier Tom Kennedy's wheelchair along Pacific Dve.
Today the baton leaves Ballina on its way to Brisbane.
By the time it reaches the Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 15 for the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony it will have travelled 21,500kms and will have been carried by 3500 runners.
The baton carries a message from the Queen which will be delivered to athletes taking part in the Games in just 44 days.
Souvenir picture feature pages 16 and 17