Severn Bridge Half Marathon
Sunday 26th August 2018.
This is definitely my favourite race of the year having ran it for the past 3 years.
It’s just too great an opportunity to miss. Running out of Wales into England and back into Wales!! Now who wouldn’t wish to run into Wales!! Heaven!! The race was also voted BEST NEW RACE in the Runners World Personal Best awards.
So about the race…..
Half Marathon - Starts 9:00 am and this year they even introduced a 10k which started at 10.00am!
The event starts on the Western (Chepstow) end of the Severn Bridge on the motorway itself and after crossing the bridge and back finishes in the event HQ below J2 of the M48, right next to the car park. Access in and out could not be any easier!
The event HQ is set on a pleasant grassy area overlooking the bridge however with the driving wind and rain this year, shelter was at a minimum. Thank god for poncho’s…
The route suits both first timers and experienced club runners – it also provides something a bit different from your average 'run-of-the-mill' city half marathons.
Stunning views, Sea air, Scenic country lanes and villages and the opportunity to participate in a unique running event on a closed motorway and across the iconic Severn Bridge. Have I sold it to you yet!! No…..there are also some lovely sheep on route?!?!
The 2018 route was the same as last year. (2016 had a different route and that was hillier)!! From the event HQ (near Chepstow) you walk along the closed M48 motorway to the start point on the bridge itself. This make for a great photo opportunity for those of you that love a good selfie!!
The start line on the bridge is about 1 mile from race HQ so you need to ensure you leave in good time to reach the start line. You then get to savour that special middle of the bridge pre-race atmosphere before setting off at 9:00am. I couldn’t wait to get started this year though as the rain was belting us down on the bridge!! No cover on the bridge of course so you are open to all of the elements!!!!
Pacers are also available from 1hr 30 pace upwards and the pens are clearly marked!! However as the 1hr 30 pen is on the start line, clearly gives away the undulating course. The pacers were brilliant though and kept us on track the whole way round.
Running on the motorway / bridge you exit at J1 and head out on the B4461 towards Elberton (also closed). Then comes the quiet country lanes around Little-upon-Severn and Kington. You return over the bridge on the pedestrian access-way and finish at the event HQ close to the car parks.
Not everyone realizes that as you cross from Wales to England you do in fact cross over two bridges. The Wye Bridge and the Severn Bridge. The Wye Bridge is of a 'cable-stay' design very much like the Second Severn Crossing whilst the 'Old Severn Bridge is of a suspension design. There are also a further two 'dykes', making a total of 4 bridges altogether.
The route is best described as 'undulating' with a hill However if you’re not a fan of humour then the signs pointing out that ‘This Is Not THE HILL’ will not be for you!! You will however come across THE HILL. Short!! Steep!! Lung Bursting!!It is a shock to the system, especially if you’re not use to running up hills.
This ‘HILL’ arrives at around 11k but after that it’s all downhill and very fast until you reach the Bridge again. You really can make up a lot of time on the downhill part!
Oh…..there are also some very interesting country smells on route as well.
The bridge goes on seemingly forever on the way back, but up and over and loop around a small hill & through the under-pass towards the finish.
Plenty of encouragement was received on route and down the finishing line even in the wet and windy conditions.
If I had hammered it a bit harder after “the Hill” then I might have snagged a PB for the course. I’m not down about it though as it gives me a positive base to build on for next year!
There is easy access to the race event base and car park from junction 2 of the M48. There is also ample free car parking within a couple of minutes’ walk of the changing area, baggage store and start. Train and bus stations are situated in Chepstow, a mile or so from the event village.
PRO’s…..The main pro being you get to visit WALES!!
Plus you can expect all the features of a quality and well organised and Half Marathon:
Clashes with The Peterborough Beer Festival every year!