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The Grand Shaftesbury Run was launched in 2011 by Nick Ashley-Cooper, 12th Earl of Shaftesbury and iconic Ambassador for Wings for Life. As an avid runner himself, Lord Shaftesbury welcomed families to enjoy the area of outstanding beauty, and for those feeling active, to race around the off-road trails of the stunning Estate. The weekend offered a very relaxed ethos with a festival vibe, a unique opportunity and one not usually affiliated with such grounds. Wings for Life are honored to be the event’s official charity.

Saturday boasted a Triathlon in which participants of all ages and abilities could partake, featuring Olympic, Sprint and Novice distances. With the help of Try-Tri Events, the race began by swimming through the magnificent ornamental lake in the early hours of the morning, onto the floating pontoon for the bike ride, finally completing the race along the tree lined home straight to the finish line. The children had a little more of a lie in that day, setting off in the afternoon and completing their triathlon in the glorious sun, drawing day one to a close.

Sunday’s events held competition high, this time out of the water and focusing on the main running waves. The scenic half marathon route trailed along the ‘beech belt’, a late 18th early 19th century tree plantation and along the lanes of Wimborne St Giles. Winner of the half marathon, Steve Way, finished in 1 hour, 15 minutes and 31 seconds. Not far behind him were the triumphant 10km runners and the parents being dragged onto the children’s 1km sprint down the avenue.

After suffering his own spinal cord injury in 2009 and since making a dramatic recovery, Nick introduced a 32km hand biking event, both on and off road, in support of those with similar injuries.

I narrowly escaped paralysis, and have been fortunate enough to recover to the point where I have been able to compete in races again. Through Wings for Life I am able to focus my energy on helping those who have been less fortunate than myself.

This year’s hand biking winner Steve Hodges, finished the race in an astonishing time of 2 hours, 25 minutes and 47 seconds.

The hardest part for me was slogging uphill through the mud with the wheels burying themselves with each turn. I remember cycling down the final stretch and felt so uplifted by the sight of everyone clapping and my children jumping up and down, shouting my name at the finish line. What support. 


The Wings for Life raffle upped its game this year with some spectacular prizes on offer, congratulations to the winner of the signed Red Bull Racing cap, the winner of Calling Festival tickets, kindly donated by Live Nation UK and to the champagne winners. Proven popular by lots of participants and fundraisers across the weekend who support both Wings for Life and The Grand Shaftesbury Tri Run, just under £4,000 has been raised so far with fundraising continuing, all in support of Wings for Life’s spinal cord research.

We want to thank everyone who took part and for your continued support in helping us find a cure. With numbers rising each year, we hope to see participants returning to The Grand Shaftesbury Tri Run again next year, making it bigger and better than before.