Tracking the epic journey of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games torch


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The Olympic torch is sure getting around. While the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, don't officially start until Feb. 7 (running to Feb. 23), the torch has already been to the North Pole, underwater and outer space.

In one of the most ambitious Olympic Torch relays, Russia has mapped out the torch’s journey, which started in Moscow on Oct. 7, to Sochi through 2,900 towns and villages across all 83 regions of Russia by foot, car, train, plane and "troika" (a sled or carriage drawn by three horses harnessed side by side) for more than 65,000 kilometers (approximately 40,390 miles) of the relay — making it the longest relay in Winter Olympics history.

According to the Torch Relay website, the relay of the Olympic Flame is a large sports-related celebration, which always precedes the Summer and Winter Olympic Games. Thousands of torchbearers over the course of several months carry the Olympic Flame across the territory of the host country of the future games, symbolizing the approaching Olympics.

The lighting ceremony was held on Sept. 29 at Olympia, Greece, with Greek alpine skier Ioannis Antoniou as the first torchbearer. Russian NHL star Alex Ovechkin received the torch from Antoniou.

Nov. 9 marked the first time an Olympic torch was taken into outer space. For safety reasons, the torch was unlit throughout the voyage, Reuters said. The torch was taken into space in 1996 and 2000 but had not previously been outside the space station, according to Reuters.

On Nov. 20, the torch was brought up onto Oblachnaya Mountain, the highest mountain of Primorye, a region in Russia.

On Nov. 25, the torch was carried underwater in Lake Baikal — the world’s deepest lake. The flame was able to stay lit during the dive thanks to a special burner, which was designed and developed in a similar way to flares used for warning signals at sea, according to a release.

Where will the torch wind up next? Check out this cool interactive graphic that maps out the torch's movement.