The Acadian World Congress kicked off Friday night with Strait Crossing Limited’s opening event Run Under the Star, the first midnight run of its kind on P.E.I.
With 1,000 runners crossing the Confederation bridge, family, friends and volunteers waited with support at the finish line.
The first to cross the finish line was Will Bryden, 24, who ran the 5 kilometres in just over 17 minutes.
The Halifax-resident started training last year, and has spent many summers on the Island in his youth.
"I grew up spending my summers in P.E.I., and when I left for university, my parents moved to Charlottetown. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to run the bridge, and I'm glad I was able to do it. "
“It was good. A midnight run has always been a tough go, just trying to manage energy for throughout the day, and trying to keep up.”
Close to Bryden's time was Erin Poirier, 39, who cracked the 5 km at 18:38, a goal she has been trying to accomplish for six years.
“I can’t believe I just did that. I won’t be able to sleep tonight. I have tried this so many times," said Poirier.
“My Poirier roots started doing reunions in 1997 when the Congress was held in Cheticamp, N.S., so it’s been a special little boost. The last (kilometre) was pretty hard because the finish line doesn’t appear until pretty late. I was just looking to get back onto P.E.I."
When Paul Sands, 65, saw the opportunity to run the bridge, he jumped at the chance.
“I saw it on Facebook and I thought it was a good chance to run on the bridge, and it was a night race, so it's something different.”
Sands ran the 13 km, with a time of one hour and one minute.
“I’m training for the Berlin marathon, so this fit into my schedule.”
Sands is from Saint John, N.B. His wife has Acadian heritage, and Sands said having the Congress in both provinces is a fantastic idea.
“I think its a great idea to share it. It’s good for the Acadian people to get together. It’s good for the area, bringing in tourism. And it's great for their heritage, to be aware of where you’re from and be proud of it.”
Melissa Burrall is a newcomer to the running world and decided to participate in Run Under the Stars.
Burrall lives in Hopewell Cape, N.B. She finished the 13 km in one hour, nine minutes, with her goal originally being an hour and 30 minutes.
“I just started (running) this year, with this being my big first one. I was looking to do a 10K, which was my goal, but this just sounded like an amazing once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I figured if I’m going to do my 10K-plus why not do a unique, one-of-a-kind run.”
Summerside's director of community services JP Desrosiers ran the 13 km with his friend, Jordan Ellis. They spent the summer training for the run.
Desrosiers said his motivation to run was the uniqueness of the event.
“Just the idea of being able to say you’ve ran from New Brunswick to P.E.I. is pretty neat, and a great way to open the Acadian Congress this week. Running the bridge in the middle of the night with 1,000 people is spectacular.”
Editor Note: We've made corrections to misinformation in the original posting of the story. We apologize for any mistakes.