We couldn’t resist the novelty of Severn Bridge parkrun which basically involves running from Wales to England and back again across the Severn Bridge.
The run starts and finishes in on the Welsh side of the Severn Bridge, the original bridge across the River Severn, on a path adjacent to the M48 Motorway. The start is close to Thornwell Football Club. The location is, not surprising, very close to the M48 so easy to reach by car. It’s around 3 miles to Chepstow, so rather fiddly to reach by public transport. According to the website, there is a bus (C1, C2, C3) from Chepstow town centre to Thornwell, although Chepstow Station isn’t particularly close to the Chepstow town centre. I live 92 miles from the start and Google Maps tells me it would take 9 hours 52 mins to reach by public transport! Not surprisingly, we opted to drive. We spent the night at the Premier Inn Alveston on the English side of the bridge, then drove the last 7 miles in the morning.
There is plenty of free parking at nearby Thornwell Football Club. From here it’s a short walk to the start of the race.
When we went, runners had the use of the football club facilities, including toilets and café. There’s also a great view of the bridge from the football club.
Apparently the toilets at the football club are not currently available and the organisers suggest using facilities in Chepstow town or the M48 Services at Aust. Note that both these options are around 3 miles from the start. So if, like me, nerves kick in at the start and you need a wee regardless of if you went 10 minutes ago (I know, TMI) this is not ideal.
Another novelty about Severn Bridge parkrun is that it finishes in (and starts near) a tunnel. When we visited, it rained, so this was particularly appreciated, as you could keep dry prior to the start and leave warm clothing there so as not to contract hypothermia on the way home. There’s also some interesting art on the tunnel walls. From the start, there is a short footpath leading to the bridge itself. You basically then run for 2.5 km, opt to turn at either the English or Welsh flag, and retrace your footsteps.
The route is all tarmac. Due to the camber of the bridge, the first half is uphill, then you turn and run downhill for the second half. The exposed nature of the bridge means that it can be a bit rather windy, with a strong cross wind. On the plus side, however, the views are pretty special.
It’s a trainer no brainier.
Run Britain rankings for UK parkruns places Severn Bridge as 31st fastest out of 706. It has a total elevation of 32 metres.
The combination of the camber and wind (and probably rain, it is Wales after all) can make the first half feel like a bit of a struggle. But then it’s all downhill. And in the views and the novelty of running on a bridge spanning two countries. A run I would thoroughly recommend.