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24 Miles, 24 Hills, 24 Hours

In early December a challenge appeared on my radar called The Longest Night and I instantly signed up. I had heard of the other challenge that was held back in June called The Longest Day where runners would head out on the hour, every hour for 24 hours during the longest day of the year. The format was going to be the same but most of the runs would be taking part in darkness.

I initially signed up as a challenge to myself now that I was starting to train for longer distance races and was going to simply run a mile from the house on the hour, every hour, but why not make things a bit harder and raise money for my chosen charity Colostomy UK?

To make it more difficult I would run at least one mile in each of the 20 wards in Newport which would mean having to travel across town between them and have less time recovering between runs. But why not making it harder still? So in addition to running at least a mile in each ward I would include at least one hill. And so was born the 24 Miles, 24 Hills, 24 Hours challenge.

Hour 1 | Graig | Distance: 1.45 Miles

Hill: Upper Ocheryth

The first mile of the 24 hours and a drive out to the furthest reach of the county of Newport, Lower Machen. Once known simply as Machen until Upper Machen appeared and became Machen, the small hamlet contains just 19 houses and a Grade II* listed church first recorded in 1102 and dating back much further.

Thankfully the heavy rain that soaked the area on the night before had passed but all that water that fell on the hills needed somewhere to go so in places the hill had become a stream with fast running water to run through. Not even one hour in and I already had wet feet!

CityStrides Streets Completed: 0

Hour 2 | Langstone | Distance: 2.16 Miles

Hill: Caerlicken Lane

A dash across town to the eastern side of Newport and Langstone ward. The chosen hill in this area was Caerlicken Lane which winds its way up to Kemey’s Inferior with its Folly and the south western edge of Wentwood. It’s a beast of a hill and at 1.1 miles long I only needed to climb halfway before turning back to the start but being a bit addicted to bagging streets on CityStrides I couldn’t leave a half-finished street so ran the entire hill. It was certainly worth it to get the better views from nearer the top.

CityStrides Streets Completed: 1

Hour 3 | Tredegar Park | Distance: 1.05 Miles

‘Hill’: Railway Bridge on Lighthouse Road

It was back across to the western side to Newport to tick off another route further away from home. Tredegar Park is a very flat ward, so flat that there aren’t any hills, anywhere. I needed to get creative for Mile 3 so headed to a railway bridge on Lighthouse Road to run back and forth over the bridge many, many times – 14 times in fact!

CityStrides Streets Completed: 0

Hour 4 | Llanwern | Distance: 2.35 Miles

Hills: Cot Hill, Milton Hill

Eastern side of Newport again a loop around the village of Milton along Cot Hill, down Lodge Hill, up Milton Hill and back down Cot Hill. The area has changed little in the last century although new houses are starting to be built nearby.

Much like Caerlicken Lane, I couldn’t run just part of an area and leave off part finished streets so clocked up 2.35 miles running the few streets in the area. The sign in the photograph pointing to the long gone Llanwern Railway Station (the black half of the sign) is at least 60 years old – the station closed to the public in 1960 and completely in 1961.

CityStrides Streets Completed: 4

Hour 5 | Marshfield | Distance: 1.59 Miles

Hill: Pound Hill

Marshfield ward is predominantly flat but the northern end has some tasty hills including Pound Hill which crosses the M4 motorway. The route climbed sharply up to bridge over the M4 and continued up along a country lane. Like the first mile in Lower Machen, sections of the lane were covered in water running off the fields and like Caerlicken Lane I had to run the full length.

As I was raising money for Colostomy UK I used the hill as an opportunity to take a shot in one of their t-shirts – taken after I had completed the run of course.

CityStrides Streets Completed: 1

Hour 6 | Beechwood | Distance: 1.65 Miles

Hill (Beechwood Road)

Beechwood Road marks the boundary between Beechwood and Alway Wards and back in the late 18th/early 19th centuries the area was rural with no defined park and a quarry where some of the houses near the top of the road are currently located. My route ran the length of the road and then dropped back through the centre of the park.

CityStrides Streets Completed: 10

Hour 7 | Gaer | Distance: 1.40 Miles

Hill: Cae Perllan Road

Back in the early 1900s, this area was largely just fields with a few houses where present day Gaer is located. My route took me up Cae Perllan Road, which had appeared by a map in the 1930s, to Stow Park Circle, which was visible on maps in the late 19th century, and back down.

At this point in the 24 hours I managed to quickly pop home for a quick change of clothes and then back out onto Caerleon ward.

CityStrides Streets Completed: 4

Hour 8 | Caerleon Road | Distance: 1.28 Miles

Hill: Christchurch Hill

Whilst researching hills to run in the area I had a couple of different options such as Lodge Hill on the north side of the ward or Old Hill near the border with Ringland. I was tempted to ‘run’ Old Hill but due to the steepness of it I’d probably end up walking sections of it so opted to run Christchurch Hill which was a much shorter hill.

The route started on the M4 bridge at the border with Ringland then headed up the short Christchurch Hill until it met the top of Old Hill. Then it was along Catsash Road and back down Royal Oak Hill to the start. At this point the legs were starting to feel the hills!

CityStrides Streets Completed: 4

Hour 9 | Allt-yr-yn | Distance: 1.52 Miles

Hill: Glasllwch Lane

For the Allt-yr-yn ward I chose Glasllwch Lane which looks out of place when compared to the streets surrounding it. On a late 19th century map, the lane was the only road in the area joining Ridgeway with Bassaleg and running along it you do feel as though you are on a country lane far away from Newport.

CityStrides Streets Completed: 2

Hour 10 | Stow Hill | Distance: 1.11 Miles

Hills: Keynsham Avenue, Vicarage Hill

Keynsham Avenue and Vicarage Hill are two steep and winding roads leading up to the top of Stow Hill and St Woolos Cathedral. I’ve been down Vicarage Hill before but never up it and it’s a beast of a hill and perhaps one of the steepest in the city. At the top your greeted by the grand St Woolos Cathedral and rather than heading back down Vicarage Hill I opted for the grander Victoria Place.

CityStrides Streets Completed: 8

Hour 11 | Victoria | Distance: 1.56 Miles

Hill: Victoria Avenue

For this mile I chose Victoria Avenue on the boundary with Beechwood ward. The hill starts innocently enough at the base but pulls and pulls as it gets steeper as it heads towards Christchurch Road. The view towards the top was worth it though.

CityStrides Streets Completed: 11

Hour 12 | Beechwood | Distance: 1.29 Miles

Hills: Tennyson Road, Upper Tennyson Road

Back to Beechwood for a trek up Tennyson Road and Upper Tennyson Road. In the early 20th century the road existed as a steep track up to a house in Maindee Park both of which no longer exist. Today it’s still equally as steep but you can’t fault the reward you get when you reach the top of the Upper Tennyson Road.

The area in the early 1900s

CityStrides Streets Completed: 7

Hour 13 | Rogerstone | Distance: 1.5 Miles

Hill: Ruskin Avenue

It was the turn of Rogerstone ward (home to the Tiny Rebel Brewery) and a loop around Ruskin Avenue. When I was younger I can recall visiting the area when an Asda supermarket was located just off Ruskin Avenue (now Squires Gate housing estate). At the turn of the century the area was rural with just a road leading to Bettws and Henllys. The one property that existed at the time – Mount Pleasant – still exists today on the original road (Groes Road) which bisects Ruskin Avenue.

The area in the early 20th century showing Mount Pleasant

Throughout the evening I had been spotting plenty of Christmas decorations but Ruskin Avenue residents had really got into the Christmas spirit by getting involved. On one part of the avenue a whole row of houses had made the effort to light up their houses.

CityStrides Streets Completed: 0

Hour 14 | Lliswerry | Distance: 1.8 Miles

‘Hill’: SDR Bridge (North Side)

Like Tredegar Park, Lliswerry ward is equally as flat with no hills at all. I needed to be as creative as Mile 3 so the route used the SDR Bridge (aka City Bridge) to run across it and back, starting and finishing in Lliswerry. Technically I was running in both the Lliswerry and Pillgwenlly wards by going all the over the bridge but I didn’t fancy short ‘back and forths’ on just one side. The legs were grateful for only a small ‘hill’ to run up.

CityStrides Streets Completed: 1

Hour 15 | Gaer | Distance: 1.56 Miles

Hill: Masefield Vale

Another visit to the Gaer and a route up Masefield Vale and down Gaer Road. Masefield Vale wasn’t visible on a map dated 1937-1961 but the property at the top of the road in what is marked on a map dated 1892-1914 as Gaer-fach was present as was the Gaer Road.

The area in the early 20th century.

Some junk food to keep me going through the night

CityStrides Streets Completed: 9

Hour 16 | Ringland | Distance: 1.15 Miles

Hill: Cotswold Way

Ringland surrounds a wooded area once called Ringland Top but as I’ve run around that area in the past I headed to the northern side of the ward with a run up Cotswold Way and a few new streets on CityStrides.

It was starting to feel a little awkward running around streets at 11pm, particularly when you run down a few dead end streets just to bag them for CityStrides.

CityStrides Streets Completed: 7

Hour 17 | Rogerstone | Distance: 1.71 Miles

Hill: High Cross Lane

A return visit to Rogerstone ward and a climb up High Cross Lane. Today the area contains a large number of houses and schools but at the turn of the century the area consisted of a terrace of houses, a chapel and a farm called Blackbird’s Nest at the base of the hill and a cluster of buildings called High Cross at the top. Today those houses which gave the name to area have been replaced with a petrol station.

High Cross Lane in the early 20th century

CityStrides Streets Completed: 5

Hour 18 | Pillgwenlly | Distance: 1.43 Miles

‘Hill’: SDR Bridge (South Side)

For this mile I made a return to the SDR Bridge (City Bridge) due to the Pillgwenlly being as flat as Lliswerry and Tredegar Park Wards. For this visit I started on the Pillgwenlly side and headed out across the bridge and back. Like earlier, it was a welcome relief not to have tackle another big hill.

CityStrides Streets Completed: 0

Hour 19 | Alway | Distance: 1.66 Miles

Hill: Gibbs Road

This route whilst technically in the Alway ward is not in the area that most people would associate with Alway (i.e. the estate) and is at the border with Beechwood. The hills here were more challenging so plotted a route up and down Gibbs Road.

Gibbs Road is a big ol’ hill and at this point I was regretting plotting routes that start at the base of the hill. It’s always a shock to the system getting out of the car and immediately attacking a steep hill. A quick breather half way up would usually help and then the rest of the mile would be fine.

CityStrides Streets Completed: 5

Hour 20 | St Julian’s | Distance: 1.53 Miles

Hill: St Julian’s Road

For the St Julian’s Ward the route took me up St Julian’s Road to the Beechwood Ward boundary and back down ticking off a couple of crescents on CityStrides.

In the early 1900s the area was gradually being developed although St Julian’s Road didn’t exist. Today the street is one of the few streets in the city featuring a grass median along its length.

It was now 3am and the only cars around were taxis and police patrolling the streets and couldn’t help feeling a little nervous that the police would stop me to ask why I was running around at such an odd hour. And being obsessed with ticking off streets on CityStrides triggering house lights whilst running into a dark cul-de-sac would definitely arouse suspicious if I was spotted.

The run was actually really enjoyable taking in a never-visited park halfway up the hill with a view across Newport and some tucked away off St Julian’s Road.

CityStrides Streets Completed: 7

Hour 21 | Malpas | Distance: 1.45 Miles

Hills: Graig Park Road, Graig Park Avenue

In the early 19th century, between Malpas Road and Graig Wood there was nothing but fields but today the area is the Graig Park area of Malpas and the up-and-down roads Graig Park Avenue and Graig Park Road served as my hills for this ward. I’d been lucky with the weather throughout the day with just a few spots of drizzle but now some showers were starting to appear.

Starting each run was proving to be harder and harder with the legs really aching but as soon as I got going I could keep up the momentum.

CityStrides Streets Completed: 8

Hour 22 | Bettws | Distance: 1.47 Miles

Hill: Bettws Hill

Dating to the 1960s, Bettws is a large housing estate just north of the M4 motorway and was built around St David’s church which dates back to the 17th century.

The area long before the current estate was built

My route took me up Bettws Hill and alongside the church. The lane is a complete contrast to the rest of the Bettws estate and like Glasllwch Lane was a nice change from running around the built streets.

CityStrides Streets Completed: 7

Hour 23 | Shaftesbury | Distance: 1.01 Miles

Hill: Bryn Bevan

The first mile in my home ward and a small hilly estate which sits almost on top of the Brynglas Tunnels. The route was a tour of the entire estate to tick off the area on CityStrides and was only a short route so had to do the usual runner thing of running back and forth to round off the full mile. I was hoping that running around a relatively small estate at 6am on a Sunday morning I wouldn’t encounter anyone but a lot of people there seem to start work early!

CityStrides Streets Completed: 1

Hour 24 | Shaftesbury | Distance: 2 Miles

Hill: Brynglas Road

The final hour and the only hour where I didn’t have to drive to the start of the run. Like the final stretch of a race I found some extra energy (may have been the Weetabix I ate before the run or just the excitement of knowing I’d almost finished) to pick up the pace on the hill and tick off the few streets at the top and then run back home.

CityStrides Streets Completed: 4

Stats for the 24 Hours

  • Miles: 36.76 miles
  • Hills: A lot more than 24
  • Elevation: 4,493ft
  • New Streets on CityStrides: 104
  • Miles Driven Around Newport: 144 miles
  • Newport Wards: All 20

How Did I Find It?

It was one VERY tough challenge but one that I intentionally made tougher to both test my limits and to make a more worthwhile charity challenge to raise money for.

For most of the day I was criss-crossing across town to the different wards in Newport. This meant that I would end up sitting down a lot (either driving or waiting to run) and as any ultra runner will know, you should always ‘beware the chair’. Over time the combination of aching legs and sitting down made things uncomfortable. As the runs got closer to home I was able to head back home but only for a short period.

Then there are the hills! I think I managed to run most of the steepest hills in Newport and that took its toll on my legs. I think if it was a flat mile every hour it would have be easier (not easy, but perhaps less tough).

Staying awake proved to be straightforward no doubt due to having to drive around all night in addition to the running. Apart from sitting in the car I didn’t really sit down at other times. If I was running from home that probably would have been a different story.

I’m posting this two days after completing the challenge and my legs are still ruined from running up, but mainly running down so many steep hills!

Raising Money for ColostomyUK

As of December 24th, over 50 wonderful people had donated an amazing £810 to my chosen charity Colostomy UK who help support ostomates like myself. This far exceeded my original target of £150 and due to it being close to Christmas I wasn’t sure how many people would support me so I’m extremely grateful that so many did.

A Huge Thank You to the Following

Roni, Katie, Charlotte and Paul, Sam, M&S, Ant, Rach and Jon, Linda, Sarah, Team Ozum, Michael and Denise, Jonathan, Louise, Paul, Trudy, Sammi, Suzanne, Rich, Mik, Rachel and Family, Helen, Rob, Sue, Daisy, Jon, Samantha, Mike and Caroline, Martin, Louise, Beth, Ali, Ian, Helen, Paul, Andrew, Tania, Mum and Dad, Lee and Mel, parkrun Toast Friends, Luciano, The Webbs, James, Rhiannon and the Anonymous donators.

About Author

I once didn't run, then I started to run and got addicted. Then Crohn's Disease put a stop to my running adventures. Now I'm back with a new bum (colostomy) and starting to embark on new running adventures.


  • Linda
    22nd December 2020 at 10:35 pm

    What an interesting read and nice to learn so much about the different parts of Newport. Well done Rob, so inspiring after the difficulties you have faced. Look forward to seeing your next adventure ‍♂️

    • Robert Gale
      23rd December 2020 at 8:08 am

      I’m already thinking of what the next challenge will be!


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