SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- Olympic torch runners wove through the old mission town Thursday, cheered on by thousands of flag-waving spectators who lined the sidewalks and streets in the last week of an 82-day cross-country trek.
As Ron Hoff received the torch from runner Eric Leitz, he exclaimed: 'This is a once in a lifetime thing.'
'I had Olympic fever before, but now I have really got it bad,' said torch relay runner Doug Yungling, 39, a San Luis Obispo resident. 'The people along the way were so friendly and supportive. It was great. I'd love to do it again.'
Yungling's leg of the 15,000-kilometer trip took him from San Miguel, a small town north of San Luis Obispo near Monterey, into his hometown. Other runners continued the southward journey Thursday toward Santa Maria.
The Olympic Torch, on its way through California for the opening of the Summer Games on July 28 passed through downtown, then on to Shell Beach, near the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, and Pismo Beach.
After an overnight stopover in Goleta, just north of Santa Barbara, the Olympic torch was set to resume its southward progress at 8:20 a.m. PDT Friday and continue through Santa Barbara, Ventura, Camarillo and then along Pacific Coast Highway into the celebrity-studded beach community of Malibu.
Runners have paid $3,000 each for the honor of carrying the Olympic flame. The last runner will enter the Los Angeles Coliseum July 28, heralding the beginning of the 23rd Olympiad.
Several city officials and celebrities are scheduled to carry the flame, including former football star O.J. Simpson, who will hold it aloft Saturday in its excursion through Santa Monica.
Hells Angels leader George Christy was set to carry the torch through Ventura Friday afternoon.
George Takei, who played Sulu on 'Star Trek,' will carry the flame through the Little Tokyo district of downtown Los Angeles Saturday afternoon. Also carrying the torch Saturday will be Japanese singer Toshihiko Tahara, who has been billed as 'the Michael Jackson of Japan.'
Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley will pass the Olympic torch from one runner to another in a special celebration Saturday afternoon.
The Olympic torch was flown to New York from Greece May 8, when it began its long journey westward.