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End-to-End organisers ‘thrilled’ by turnout

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The turnout for Saturday's XL Catlin End-to-End was lower than expected with the bad weather deterring many participants.

But Anne Mello, the chairwoman of the End-to-End Charitable Trust, was “thrilled” that more than 1,000 still braved the “foul” conditions to raise money for charity.

“People were so upbeat, spirited and determined to finish,” she told The Royal Gazette. “It was a joy. I am thrilled at seeing that kind of outcome.”

“After 29 years, I can say I didn't hear one complaint,” she said, adding if there was ever an event to complain about, this would have been the one.

Sign-up numbers had suggested about 2,500 people would participate and Ms Mello estimated that between 1,200 and 1,500 ended up taking part.

“We can be praising everybody that turned up,” she said. “It was just an incredible, fulsome, spirited community event. The whole community came together to make that happen.”

Ms Mello added that everyone involved “gave their absolute best”.

“I really felt Bermuda was pulling together for this unique experience.”

She praised the “extraordinary” road marshals, who remained “so good-humoured” while out in the elements, and also thanked those manning the water stops “in such a kind-hearted way”.

“I don't think we can thank Bermuda enough and all our fabulous sponsors,” she added.

While fundraising efforts took a hit because of the weather, Ms Mello said tallying the donations for the 29th annual event will take until early June as funds continue coming in, along with matching donations from companies. This year's beneficiaries include Family Centre, Pals, the Coalition for the Protection of Children, Pride and Open Airways. According to the Bermuda Weather Service, the island saw more than two inches of rain on Saturday.

Predicted stormy conditions led to Friday's swim event being postponed and Saturday's cycle portion being cancelled.

But organisers had vowed that the walk would go ahead and despite the wind and rain, participants had a blast as they trekked their way across the island for a good cause.

Danielle Marr, of Pembroke, started off in St George's and described the experience of walking and running the whole 24.1 miles for the first time like being “in a hurricane”.

“It was just really fun,” the 32-year-old said. “I literally just zoned out and went. There was no thinking.”

She had set out to walk and jog the length of the island, but “ended up running more than I walked”.

Looking forward to a good meal at the end was what kept her going, she added.

Shawnita Furbert, of St George's, also ran all the way to Dockyard.

“I left St George's. I enjoyed it. I do it every year,” she said. “It hasn't rained for many years. It's rained and stopped but never like this.”

But Ms Furbert had her mind set on completing the challenge no matter what the weather threw at her.

“It's for a good cause, so why not?”

Violet Fletcher, from Halifax, ran the Middle-to-End for the first time and also thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

“Today was beautiful,” she said. “I didn't have to worry about getting burnt. I really enjoyed the rain because it's warm. You can dance in the rain!

“It's not snowing, it's not a blizzard, it's above ten degrees, so I'm happy.”

Ms Fletcher spoke to the The Royal Gazette as she received a free massage at the finish line.

Volunteer physiotherapists and massage therapists were on hand to treat sprains, muscle cramps and muscle tightness, while nurses and St John Ambulance volunteers assisted with other health concerns. It is understood that one unidentified man was taken to hospital via ambulance from Dockyard for an unspecified complaint.

Cyclists also joined the hundreds of walkers, who battled the blustery conditions as they made their way from St George's and various other locations to Dockyard.

Veteran End-to-End cyclist Mike Smith had fun despite the unrelenting rain.

“This is the worst End-to-End I've ever done. It rained from beginning to end but it was exciting,” he said.

Mr Smith decided to cycle even though the cycle portion had been called off, saying, “this is my dedication”. “If I say I'm going to do something, I'm going to do it.”

Meanwhile, Dennis Bean, of Devonshire, cycled the Middle-to-End in one-and-a-half hours.

“Last year, I did it and it wasn't too bad,” the 27-year-old said. “This year in the rain — I guess it was a good experience. I definitely wanted to do it regardless.”

Allie Riihiluoma, 12, and her friend Casey Morris, 12, also cycled the Middle-to-End.

Mark Riihiluoma, Allie's father, said everyone had a good time regardless of the weather.

“It was great,” Allie said. “Jumping in the puddles was fun.”

Casey added: “It was quite windy but it was OK. We saw a lot of friends along the way.”

According to Ms Mello, fundraising efforts did not quite live up to previous years, with the bad weather forecast causing a drop in sign ups by Thursday.

But she stressed that the fundraising website will open again this week for outstanding pledges. She also encouraged people to take part in the swim event, now set to take place on Friday from the Hamilton Princess at 5pm.

For more photographs, visit the photo gallery here

All smiles: walkers leaving St George at the start of the XL Catlin End-to-End (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
End-to-End veteran: Joan Dismont has taken part in the annual event 29 times (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Braving the elements: rain and wind could not stop the walkers (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Keep going: these young Middle-to-End walkers remained upbeat despite the rain (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Singing in the rain: walkers were determined to have fun (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
What rain?: young walkers brave the Middle-to-End walk despite the downpours (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Pit stop: walkers refuel with fruit at a water stop at Barnes Corner (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published May 07, 2016 at 3:20 pm (Updated May 09, 2016 at 9:54 am)

End-to-End organisers ‘thrilled’ by turnout

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