One of the largest and most popular running events in eastern Canada came to an end for another year in Baddeck, N.S., on Sunday.

The Cabot Trail Relay Race features 17 different stages to the race, covering 276 kilometres. It began Saturday morning at the Gaelic College in St. Annes.

Dalhousie University cross-country star Matt McNeil emerged as the first runner to cross the finish line.

“It feels pretty good,” said McNeil. “It was definitely one of the toughest races I've ever run. Those hills in there are pretty nasty.”

The challenging terrain is one of the reasons why the race is so popular.

“North Mountain is the absolute most difficult, I think,” said runner Chris Anderson. “That's my favorite, but the finish is a glory leg. Anyone who has the chance to run this last leg, they're really overjoyed.” 

The party-like atmosphere includes 70 teams from across Canada and the United States.

“They dress up in crazy outfits, they have themes to them. It's just completely different,” said event chair David Parkinson.

Parkinson says aside from dealing with the rough terrain, runners also had to face a long stretch of construction

“No pavement, no lane marker,” he said. “That was our biggest concern because the runners are sort of running at the edge of the shoulder away from the traffic.”

Anderson says the last leg represents what each team has accomplished over the weekend.

“It is just so fantastic because everyone comes and celebrates everyone,” he said. “Even the people on the other teams that you are competing against – you’re still celebrating them because it's the finale”

Organizers say they'll soon start planning for next year’s event.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kyle Moore.