A crowd of hundreds came out for the Axa End-to-End event at the weekend.
Fewer than 100 people set out on the 40-kilometre route from St George’s to Dockyard at 7am, but the crowds swelled because of hundreds who laced up for the Middle-to-End, which started in Hamilton.
Tricia Rice, from New York, said she came to the island to celebrate her 50th birthday and decided to tackle the event.
She said: “I heard about it and thought it would be a great way to see the whole country.
“I’ve been doing a lot of work to get ready for it, I’ve been doing about 15 miles a day. I did a test run on Thursday, and that went perfectly.
“I’m very excited. I have done some walks in New York, but nothing as big as this.”
Angie Benbow, from Manchester, England, said she did the Middle-to-End last year and decided to come back this year to do the full course.
She said: “I have been training all year. I’ve been over to the island a few times to do walking, but I have not done more than about 16, 17 miles in a go.
“I have done some walks back home, but we don’t have quite the same view in Manchester.”
Sally Penrose, from Bermuda, said she wanted to come out to support the End-to-End and promote Bermuda High School.
She said: “I think it’s going to be a great event with a good atmosphere. We’re excited.”
Keri and Tim McKittrick, who cycled the full distance, pulled in at a water stop at Ariel Sands to honks of encouragement from passing cars.
Mr McKittrick said: “It’s fantastic — we love this. We ride for pleasure, but we do this every year for the camaraderie.”
He said he had walked the route five times in the past.
Ms McKittrick said: “You see people of all different abilities, but everybody is cheering along the way. I’ve done this every year since I got here in 2014.”
Armand Trew, 13, a Warwick Academy pupil, was out for his second year for “the rush, and the exercise”.
Ethan, originally from China and a guest worker from the United States, said it was his first time out walking the End-to-End.
He said: “I did it because it’s my first year in Bermuda and I wanted to do something different. The End-to-End is amazing — I’ve never been in a country so small. I’m running on May 24 as well.”
Claudette Fleming, the director of the charity Age Concern, did the End-to-End on a bike for the first time. She said: “Age Concern is a beneficiary this year, and I always try to participate when that happens, It’s a wonderful, beautiful day.”
Her husband, Keithlyn, added: “We’ve walked it a few times. I just like meeting new people.
“Bermuda is still friendly. It’s like the island just comes together for this. I’ve already said ‘good morning’ a thousand times.”
Volunteers said many people started from Kings Square in St George early or later than the official start time in a bid to avoid an anticipated crowd.
One water stop volunteer said: “We kept on waiting for the rush to come, but it didn’t. We were definitely prepared for larger numbers. Maybe more people decided to do the middle to end, but it’s a disappointment.”
Hundreds more walkers and cyclists joined in at the Albuoy’s Point start line for the Middle-to-End.
Water stops in Paget and Warwick were crowded and walkers were treated to music and Popsicles, as well as water and traditional snacks.
Volunteers from financial services firm Deloitte adopted a Star Wars theme at Somerset Bridge in celebration of the End-to-End being held on May 4 — Star Wars Day
The water stop featured rows of inflatable Imperial storm troopers and volunteers dressed as characters from the famous film series.
Participants were welcomed at the finish line in Dockyard by Ed Christopher, the Hamilton town crier.
Chrisanthi Waldron, who cycled with her family, said: “We have been doing this for almost ten years. My son just got a new bike, so we though it was a great time to try it out.”
“The hills were a challenge, but the heat was okay. We kept hydrated and stopped often and now we’re here at the finish line.”
Irving Romaine said the End-to-End was an annual tradition for his family.
He added: “It’s a little bit of exercise and it leads into May 24. It’s just something we have been doing for years now.
“It’s a leisurely ride. It’s not a race or anything, so it was great to come out and enjoy it.”
Mr Romaine said: “There weren’t enough water stops on South Shore, I was looking for more doughnuts and cookies.”
His son, Zuri, said his main concern was hills, especially Scaur Hill in Sandys.
The Axa End-to-End has grown from its small-scale start in 1988 and more than 2,000 people took part last year.
The event has attracted a total of about 50,000 participants in its 32 years and has raised more than $5.65 million for good causes.
This year’s recipients will be youth charity Raleigh International, WindReach outdoor centre for the disabled, Age Concern and Friends of Hospice.