Severn-th Heaven

(parkrun #164 – tourist run #36 )

As we checked in to the Severn View Travelodge on the Friday night, I was beginning to have doubts about our next choice of venue on the Bishops-on-Tour parkrun programme….

Running alongside a motorway! Surely that’s against some sort of byelaw, isn’t it? What if it’s too windy, will I get vertigo? I’ve seen the parkrun vlogs on You Tube, and that side path looks far too narrow for an out-and-back parkrun course. Such was the internal dialogue that was going through my head contemplating what must be one of the UK’s iconic parkrun venues.

So, in true face-your-fears fashion, we set off for a stroll across the bridge by way of an eve of parkrun reconnoitre. Glad we did. It turns out that the footpaths on both sides (1) of the bridge were broader then they appeared on You Tube and the degree of separation between the pedestrian way and the dual carriageway was reassuringly adequate. It was, however, quite windy and overcast as we walked across the bridge that evening, so we were bracing ourselves for head/tail winds the following morning.

But we need not have worried. Cometh the parkrunday…cometh the sunshine, light winds, and clear blue sky.

The run briefing takes place “off-road,” beside the underpass that leads to a footpath that brings you up to bridge level where the start line is. What – an – amazing – vista right from start to finish!

According to the Severn Bridge parkrun website, the course covers two countries and three counties. It “…starts in Monmouthshire, Wales, on the Wye Bridge Section of the old Severn Bridge, the route is an out and back course over the beautiful Severn Bridge. The run takes you across the national border into England, and into the counties of Gloucestershire and Avon, taking in breath-taking scenery of Wales and England either side of the Severn Estuary, before bringing you back into Wales. “

According to wikipedia…
The Severn Bridge crossing consists of four structures, which, in order from England to Wales, are: the Aust Viaduct, Severn Bridge, Beachley Viaduct and Wye Bridge. In 1998 the Severn Bridge and Aust Viaduct were given Grade I listed status,[10] and the Beachley Viaduct (eastern/English end) of the Wye Bridge[23] and the western/Welsh end of the Wye Bridge received Grade II listed status.[24]

I really enjoyed this run. Did the ground move beneath my feet? Well sort of. As we set off you could feel the gentle rhythmic vibration through the metal deck of the bridge as 145 other parkrunners and myself pounded the course. Percussion in unison!

I experienced a bit of an adrenaline rush to begin with; partly the usual setting off with a crowd thing but also, I have to admit to having a residual amount of nervousness about the potential vertigo effects once we got out onto main segment, mid-estuary.

I always enjoy the cheeky sprint to the finish. On this course the final 100m is a steady descent down the path from the bridge and then a sharp right into the underpass where the finish funnel is. I was hoping for a sub 30 time and in fact I managed to finish in 29:09, my fastest this year to date.

(1) We ended up doing an out and back via a subway and bridge across the carriageways at each end.

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