© MITCH MACDONALD/THE GUARDIAN
A mass of runners make their way through the 5 and 10 km treks of the annual Bunny Hop in Charlottetown.
Some slippery surfaces didn’t stop Island runners from returning to the roads this weekend.
While the weather was a little frigid, about 150 Islanders laced up and welcomed in spring during Saturday’s Bunny Hop 5 km and 10 km races in Charlottetown.
The long-running event is often seen as the start of the racing season and also included a 300 metre kiddie hop for children under 10-years-old.
The first Bunny Hop was held in 1978, with the event having grown since then to become one of P.E.I.’s oldest and most popular road races.
“It’s kind of a legendary run,” said race director Sheldon Opps. “It’s a great race, a good way to kick off the running season and just a good opportunity for people to get back out on the roads and meet up with their friends and neighbours.”
It was the first time running in the event for Jeff MacKenzie, who was also the first participant to finish the 5 km trek.
Motivated to get into better shape, MacKenzie began running last July after signing up for the P.E.I. half marathon.
“That motivated me to train sin kind since I paid 80 bucks to sign up,” said MacKenzie, who hasn’t looked back. “Then I kind of fell in love with it, I’ve been running pretty much daily ever since.”
While some runners continue throughout the winter, Opps said safety on the slick roads was the number one concern for organizers on Saturday.
He said the transportation department also helped by putting extra salt on the route early Saturday morning.
“They were pretty aggressive on the road and put out more salt but the thing is, it takes a bit of time for the salt to start working,” he said. “I told everyone ‘it’s nice to get your personal best but you don’t want to get your personal best and put yourself in the hospital’.”
The first official Bunny Hop was held in 1998 by the P.E.I. Roadrunners, who still sanction the event, and saw 32 runners.
The event has grown in popularity since then, with more than 300 runners lacing up for the trek in 2013.
The run, which was sponsored by Dairy Queen and Source for Sports, also raises funds towards youth and junior athletic development in both Triathlon P.E.I. and Colonel Gray High School’s athletic teams.
MacKenzie encouraged others who are interested in running in this year’s road race events.
“When first started, it took more than 25 minutes to do a 5 k, now I can do them in under 20 minutes on a good day,” he said. “I definitely would (recommend running to other people).”
The run was sponsored by Dairy Queen and Source for Sports.