Shaftesbury Grand Tri Weekend by Abi Cooke

Last weekend four Ryde Harriers, Cherry, Philippa, Sally and Abi with Julie Salter from Isle of Wight Road Runners all took a road trip down to the lovely village of Wimborne St-Giles to take part in the Grand Tri Run Weekend. The event is a weekend long mini-festival of triathlon and running, all taking place in the grounds of the rather beautiful St Giles house, home of Lord Shaftesbury.

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Saturday is all about triathlon, with several distances on offer. Cherry took part in the standard distance triathlon, which consisted of a 1500m swim in Lord Shaftesbury’s pond, a 44km bike ride and a 10k run. Having not competed in this distance triathlon for about 25 years, Cherry finished in an impressive 3:11:54 and was second in her age category.


This was only Philippa’s second triathlon and first open water swim, so she and Julie took part in the Sprint triathlon which consisted of a 750m swim, 22km bike and 5k run. Philippa looked strong as she crossed the line in a time of 1:49:30 and was amazingly perky the next day.

Podium Place

Each triathlete was in a different wave and started at different times, so Sally and I spent the morning trying to keep track of them all and running between the events to take photos and cheer. We were both in awe of them for taking part in the triathlon, there’s a lot more to think about than putting on trainers and running like you’re not allowed to touch your bike until you have put your helmet on.

Sunday morning started bright and sunny and after all the excitement of the triathlon the day before I think it’s fair to say that both Sally and I felt quite blasé about running a half marathon, as we saw it to be the easier of the two events. We jogged down to the start, and had a bit of a panic when we realised that we needed chips for our shoes, meaning that we missed Lord Shaftesbury’s pre-race briefing. The run was all off-road and did a large circle around the estate. It was a sunny day and had the potential to be really warm, but luckily the majority of the run was weaving through shaded woodland. There were a few hills, and a couple of long pulls, as I ran past two men running up one particularly long climb one commented to the other ‘this is horrible’, while I silently thanked the fact that we live on a hilly Island! The course was definitely challenging, and not really PB potential. Sally finished in a time of 2:05:38 which is amazing as it has only been three weeks since her sub 4 run at the London marathon! I finished in 1:52:19 slightly worse for wear with a sore foot (*but 11th lady nonetheless!* – edit by SR)

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I would definitely recommend this event to anyone who would like a sporty weekend away next May. The atmosphere was very friendly for the whole weekend, with a children’s triathlon and 1km run adding to the family feel. For the party animals among you, there was a bar on site with a live band playing on Saturday night followed by a DJ set by Lord Shaftesbury himself!