I’m currently following a training plan with RunItYourWay.com and this week’s long run was an 18-miler. When it comes to long runs I like to seek out interesting routes or catch a train to a town and then run to another town and catch a train back home. When discovering that I would need an 18 mile route I fired up the OS Maps website to plot a route but I already had a potential route in mind.
With the weather forecast to be warm and sunny, I was looking forward to a having a few beers outside the Small Bar in Bristol and I had a route in mind to get there and get the long run at the same time. I plotted a route between Chepstow and Bristol and with a little detour through some streets along the way I made a route that would take me right to the centre at exactly 18 miles. Usually trail routes on OS Maps can be a bit longer than plotted but as this was 100% road it was likely to be accurate. The route was sorted.
I’d decided the route early in the week so whereas I never look forward to a training run at 5/10k race pace, I get quite excited about the the challenge of a long run.
I have recently ran some longer trail runs (17 miles) but for this run I was keen to run on road so that I wouldn’t be interrupted by stiles or cows or be tempted to stop for a selfie with a horse. I would no doubt stop to take a photo or two , particularly when entering Bristol where the chances of encountering graffiti would be high.
The trains from Newport to Chepstow are not the most frequent so in order to get my usual seat outside the Small Bar I caught a train that would get into Chepstow around 8am. I was anticipating the route taking around 3 hours although I was hoping that the run would go well and it would be more like 2.5 hours.
The first section of the route leaves Chepstow, passes through Bulwark and then crosses the Severn Bridge. It was particularly windy when crossing the bridge, especially on the English side. After the bridge was a section of the Thornbury road which I knew would involve running along a fast road but after a mile or so the route would change to less busy lanes (apart from the dozens of cyclists that frequent the area).
The route goes through Olveston and nearby Tockington and then heading through Almondsbury. At this point (around 10 miles) the route passes underneath the M5 motorway and the remaining 8 miles would be along increasingly busy roads passing Rolls Royce and Airbus in Filton and eventually ending up in the centre. Rather than taking the direct route into the city I went via Ashley Down (and probably other areas I’m not familiar with) until I met the M32 motorway.
It was at this point (around 16.5 miles) I encountered some proper Bristol graffiti clustered around an underpass and there was some seriously impressive artwork. I simply couldn’t resist stopping to take some photos.
The last section of the route involved some weaving around streets to ensure I made it to 18 miles with a finish in Castle Park. The total moving time was 2:33 and the total elapsed time to 2:39 (I needed a pee near Olveston as well as stopping for a few photos). The run went much better than I had expected and felt so good for entire length of it. There was one steep hill at 9 miles which I opted to walk but besides that it was running all the way.
The reward at Bristol was usual seat outside the Small Bar for a few beers in the sun paired with some fried chicken and fries. This wasn’t the first time that I’ve ended a run here and upon arrival I was asked if I wanted my usual seat 🤣