Tour de Newport: 24th July, 2021
When I briefly started getting back into running after having a stoma in 2019 I was keen to set myself a challenge so whilst sat at the bar in Tiny Rebel in Newport I wondered how long the border around Newport was so fired up the OS Maps app and plotted a route.
Surprisingly there are enough public footpaths to stay fairly close to the border and the total distance was somewhere between 71-72 miles. That sounded like something I could set as a target for myself and had the aim of attempting it in 2020. Things didn’t go too well health-wise and I wasn’t going to be able to attempt it but now that I’m back to normal I’ve set myself the challenge of completing it this year.
This going to be my biggest challenge to date and the most toughest. The furthest I’ve run to date is 50 miles and I have got some experience of running ultramarathons so I’m confident that this is something that I’ll be able to conquer.
As added motivation I’ve decided to raise money for the MS Trust. My brother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in June 2019 although symptoms started appear as far back as 2011. He experiences a mix of symptoms including fatigue, foot drop meaning that he sometimes has to walk with a stick and would have the occasional unscheduled trip to the floor.
There’s also the mental distress that comes with having such a condition and this is something that I can relate being someone with a stoma and Crohn’s Disease.
By raising money for the MS Trust they will be able to fund specialist nurses, support those with MS and being a voice for those with the condition.
To train for the challenge I downloaded a 100k plan which should be suitable for the challenge and began on March 9th. It would involve running 5 days a week with my long runs on Saturdays and alternating between speed and hills on a Wednesday.
In the past I would have run before work or during my lunch break and showered in the office but since moving to a new location without a shower I opted to run around 4am which would give me enough time to get in a decent run, perform a colostomy irrigation and then head to work. It would also mean that on challenge day, having an early start would not be a shock to the system.
Strangely, I’ve become used to getting up early and to quote ultrarunner Damian Hall, “there’s something deliciously secretive about going out before everyone else is up”.
The long runs of 26 miles have been both straightforward and tough but not having tired legs the day after running a marathon distance hopefully mean that the training is working and I’m getting used to higher mileage weeks.
The route is going to start and finish at Newport’s iconic Transporter Bridge and will go in an anti-clockwise direction. The first 17 miles are predominantly flat and follows the Wales Coast Path as far as the border at Redwick then heads inland towards the Magor Brewery. Climbing will soon began as the route makes its way through Penhow and Llanvair Discoed and up through Wentwood. The border bisects Wentwood at Cadira Beeches car park so it’s here that the route heads west through the wood and then drops down beneath the A449 and then towards Caerleon.
Leaving Caerleon there’s a section of trail to Ponthir and then it’s along Malthouse Lane to Malpas and onto a hilly trail section through Henllys Vale, Craig y Merchant wood and down to the canal in Rogerstone. It’s a short distance through the town and over the A469 and then the big pull up and over Ochrwyth down to Lower Machen and the 50 mile point. The Rhymney River then guides you towards Michaelstone Bridge, onto Cefn Mably Park, along Druidstone Park and ultimately the A48. The route heads to towards the coast and rejoins the Wales Coast Path all the way back to the finish at the Transporter Bridge.
The route will be a mix of trail and road with perhaps slightly more trail. It’s impossible to stay on the border for the entire route so it goes either just inside or just outside the border and for the parts where you are inside the border there are enough sections outside to even things out.
As far as I’m aware, nobody has run the border of Newport so I could be the first and claim a Fastest Known Time/Only Known Time. When researching the route back in 2019 I’m sure I read a blog post about someone (or a group of people) walking a similar route over a period of time but I can’t seem to find the post again.
My main aim for the challenge is to test my limits to see what I’m capable of rather than getting a FKT although it would be rewarding to know that I could be the first person to complete the route.
On the Day
Running 72 miles is going to be challenging and whilst the doing it unsupported is tempting, I think having help along the way will be more sensible. I’ve mapped out possible aid station locations along the way where it’s safe for cars to park up with supplies. Friends and family have shown interest in offering support along the way but if anyone would like to come along I’d be most grateful. If anyone would also like to run any of the legs, particularly in the later stages, I’d also be extremely grateful.
It’s difficult to predict when I’ll be at each stage of the run but I’ll be trying to predict times at each location based on terrain, elevation, distance into the race, etc. To help I’ll be renting a tracker which will be able to plot my live position on a map so if anyone is interested in supporting they can follow that.
The plan will be to start the run at 4am to get the most out of the day and could take me around 16-18 hours or so to complete.
|Transporter Bridge (Start)||0||0400|
|Newport Wetlands||3.43 Miles||0430|
|Enter Wales Coast Path||9 Miles||0525|
|Exit Wales Coast Path||13.37 Miles||0605|
|Llandevenny (Aid)||16.94 Miles||0645|
|Penhow Castle (Aid)||20.73 Miles||0730|
|Llanvair Discoed||22.53 Miles||0750|
|Cadira Beeches (Aid)||25.12 Miles||0840|
|A449 Underpass||28.1 Miles||0905|
|Caerleon Bridge (Aid)||33.05 Miles||1005|
|Ponthir Road||36.3 Miles||1040|
|Rougemont (Aid)||38.74 Miles||1105|
|Henllys Vale (nr Castell y Bwlch)||41.07 Miles||1135|
|Craig y Merchant||43.58 Miles||1205|
|Rogerstone Canal||46.09 Miles||1230|
|A467 (Ochrwyth) (Aid)||47.33 Miles||1310|
|A468 (Lower Machen)||49.68 Miles||1340|
|Michaelstone Bridge (Aid)||52.9 Miles||1420|
|Cefn Mably Park||54 Miles||1430|
|Start of Druidstone Road||55.51 Miles||1450|
|A48 (Aid)||57.22 Miles||1515|
|Peterstone Wentlooge (Aid)||60.4 Miles||1557|
|Duffryn (Aid)||67.6 Miles||1730|
|Transporter Bridge (Finish)||71.56 Miles||1815|