Crossing the Prince Edward Island - Page 3
The PEI Crossing
At 5:05 AM on Sunday, August 12, Bradford – accompanied by Gaudet – set out from Tignish on the island’s Northwest side along the trail – an abandoned railway that consists mostly of flat crushed gravel sections. Gaudet would accompany Bradford for what he estimates were the first 25k, and again for a 65k section through the night.
The run went on without a hitch at first, but then Bradford’s skies darkened in more than one way.
“The first 100k went really smoothly, and we were chatting and running,” Bradford says. “Then a rainstorm came in. It got really dark at night, with really, really heavy rain, torrential rain. It got really difficult to see, even with my headlamp.”
“The night run was surreal,” says Gaudet. “Bats crisscrossed our head beams throughout the night and raccoons seemed equally confused by the heat and our lights.”
When it wasn’t raining, Bradford had to deal with humidity and subsequent chafing – something relatively foreign to him. Despite the roadblocks, though, he covered the first 100 miles in under 24 hours. “My wife came out to crew and mule for me then, but I got sick and couldn’t hold down food. I was dry heaving constantly. That point, with over 70 miles still to run, was one of the darkest points overall.”
But he persisted – for unselfish reasons.
“I’d already told so many people and family members, and people had come to the island and rearranged their travel schedules to be there,” Bradford says. “I decided it was something I was going to do whether my body wanted to or not.”
“At this point my uncle got on a bike and rode with me,” Bradford continues. “He rode probably 100k total, and then with 2k to go, at a road crossing, he got off and walked with my wife and I.”
Bradford’s wife also ran with him through the second night, when he says he experienced hallucinations. “With 50k or so to go, she joined me,” he says. “It was great – I totally needed her. I would have been a wreck without her.”
At 3:31 AM the second morning—46 hours, 26 minutes after setting out from the other side of the island, Bradford finished his traverse of the trail. Pending Gaudet’s attempt, it is the only known completion of the trail in one shot – and the fastest.
“It was a big group effort, which was pretty amazing,” Bradford says. “I remember during the second night, being overwhelmed with this sense of gratitude. It was really profound, like in that raw, emotional state you can get into when you beat yourself up that way. It was all the help I had.”
“It became a lot easier when I just decided I needed to be there, to see it happen and have it all pay off for everyone,” he goes on. “This had never happened before in a 100 – usually I’m in charge of deciding whether I’ll be able to continue. When I abandoned that, when it wasn’t my choice anymore, that was pretty helpful.”