The Admiral City of Newport Half Marathon returns for the fourth year running on Sunday, March 5. Jo Barnes talks to organiser and runner Christine Vorres, of St David’s Hospice Care, to learn more about the event and why it is so special to her, the city, the runners who take part year after year and perhaps, most importantly, to Newport-based St David’s Hospice Care...
VOICE: Why was the City of Newport Half Marathon started in the first place?
CHRISTINE VORRES: The event, which was first staged in March 2013, was always intended to raise the profile of the charity, and raise funds to support hospice services.
V: How many people have taken part and how much has been raised for St David’s Hospice Care and other charities over the years?
CV: A total of 5,176 runners have completed the event and approximately £279,224.84 has been raised by our supporters and sponsors.
V: When did Admiral come on board as main sponsors?
CV: Admiral Group joined us in 2014
V:What difference has their involvement had?
CV: Their support is invaluable to us – and it helps us engage with their staff
V: How many volunteers do you need to marshal the event and how are they recruited?
CV: You can never have enough marshals! We had around 120 marshals last year, and a lot of those approach us with a desire to get involved.
V: How does the Newport Half compare to others?
CV: The route is fairly scenic, not too undulating but with a few twists and turns. The support along the route is really good, and the last two miles along the riverfront is very pretty, although we are always told the wind on the SDR bridge can be pretty brutal.
V: How has the event developed over time?
CV: Every year we look at the feedback from the runners, supporters, local residents and businesses to see what and where we can make improvements. The plan is to grow the event over the next 10 years so that it becomes a city marathon to match Cardiff and Swansea. The last few years have been challenging due to the developments taking place in the city centre, but they have all been to the benefit of the event. The FriarsWalk shopping centre being so close to the start and finish is an added attraction for the supporters and participants
V:What kind of feedback have you had?
CV: Generally, feedback has been very positive. Local people are delighted to see their city hosting the race, and are very supportive. One year we had comments about the medals – so we now offer a bespoke event medal which was very well received last year. We have also responded to a criticism about the length of time that some roads were closed, and are making a few changes to sort that out. The positive feedback far outweighs the negative aspects, but we know that they are the comments we need to focus on.
V:What is the best thing about the event?
CV: There are several ‘best things’ – mainly the money raised to support hospice services, but also the way in which it brings the community together is amazing.
V: How does the route differ this year from previous years?
CV: Hardly any amendments this year, but we are introducing an alternative route for slower runners – just a little detour for half a mile. We’ll post it on our website in the next few weeks.
V:What would be your perfect route for the Newport Half?
CV: A perfect route would utilise the major roads – showcasing the city’s bridges, Tredegar House, the castle. It’s a case of ‘work in progress’ as we keep exploring our options.
V: Is a long term aim to convert the half to a full marathon if so what’s the major hurdle?
CV: Not at the moment, we need to keep our focus on perfecting and growing the half. But you never know!
V: How many people will be taking part this year?
CV: We hope to attract 3,000 entrants.
V: Is there still time to enter?
CV: Yes, entries will be open until third week of February. The event is just £30 (registered athletes qualify for a £2 discount) – and upon finishing, all participants will receive an event technical t-shirt, along with a gorgeous medal. We also provide post-event massages, courtesy of our partners from St Joseph’s Physiotherapy Clinic.
V:Why do you believe people take part in and run the half marathon year after year?
CV: People like the course and the atmosphere – and to support the charity.
V:Where do the entrants come from?
We have had a gentleman come down from Scotland, and a lady from Belgium has come along two years running!
For more details call St David’s Hospice Care on 01633 851015
St Joseph’s Hospital ‘Centre for Clinical Physiotherapy’ is once again supporting the Admiral City of Newport Half Marathon.
For the third year running the team will be providing physiotherapy services and supporting runners in their training leading up to the event. And immediately after the race the team will be offering massage to all runners who cross the finish line.
Christine Vorres met with Troy Wilson, the clinical director of physiotherapy at St Joseph’s, and Anouk Van Niekerk, the business development co-ordinator recently to finalise details for supporting the events participants.
In addition to providing training tips, health advice and offering discounted physiotherapy services, this year some lucky participants have been selected to receive services free of charge to help them reach their running goals.
Troy said: “Raising money for the charity by running a half marathon is a huge undertaking for some people, and we are keen to support them. We have the expertise and facilities to help, and that’s what we would like to offer. The right advice and treatment can help any runner, whether it’s your first half marathon or not.”