THOUSANDS of runners enjoyed stunning views as they took part in the first half marathon at the Old Severn Bridge linking England and Wales today.

The race drew around 2,000 participants with thousands of pounds raised for charities including St David’s Hospice and Barnardo’s.

The half marathon organised by Chepstow Harriers was another boon for Chepstow, which has hosted a string of high profile events this year.

Marathon runner Stephen Paterson, 36, became the winner of the inaugural race after crossing the finishing line in 1 hour and 14 minutes.

Mr Paterson, 36, of Les Croupiers running club in Cardiff, said: “I am coming back into fitness. My record is 1 hour and 10 minutes. It was tough.

“I started running in my early 20s. I’ve had lots of injuries, got fit and got injured.

“I do the London Marathon once a year but I prefer 10ks and half marathons.

“It was brilliant and well organised, traffic free and well marshalled and there were lots of drink stations. Coming on the bridge, it was a lovely finish.”

Spectators were able to watch the runners set off on the bridge before they crossed into England, followed a loop and finished the race in Wales.

Spectator Debbie Fletcher, 33, said: “It was amazing to stand on the bridge. You could watch everyone starting. It was brilliant.”

Bristol runner Barry Bryant, 39, who finished ninth, said: “It was tough. This is the first one I have done in two years.

“The hill was very steep. It was quite fast to start with.

“It wasn’t very windy. I was waiting for a head wind going on the bridge but it was all right. The views were stunning.”

Chepstow Harriers hope the Severn Bridge half marathon can be held every year.

St David’s Hospice retail manager Jenny Channing added: “I’m a Chepstow person and I think it’s wonderful.

“We have had a superb festival in Chepstow this year, we’ve had so many wonderful acts and plays at the castle.

“At the moment there is an abundance of shows. We’ve had Tom Jones. It’s brilliant. We are spoiled for choice.”