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Tri for Bestival

A swim, bike and run with Elton John awaiting at the finish? Steven Diffey plans his epic Bestival tri

I came up with the idea back in 2009 as I was crossing the Solent from Lymington to Yarmouth for a weekend of partying at my favoured Bestival. I’d recently gotten into triathlon and found myself planning how I was going to progress through the distances until I’d be capable of completing an Ironman.

Standing at the bow of the ferry I thought; why don’t I swim this crossing next year for fun? Actually, why not take it even further and turn the whole journey to the festival into a triathlon?

I could cycle from London to the south coast, swim across the Solent to the Isle of Wight and then run to Bestival. What a great way to combine two of my biggest passions – sport and music. I laughed it off and put it down to the early morning ‘pre-festival’ beer.

As the next couple of years passed and I grew more confident in my endurance abilities the idea began to resurface. Still, come 2012, as I was training for my first Ironman I couldn’t imagine putting myself through the challenge.

It can be hard enough organising oneself to compete in a race, let alone actually organising it. To name a few of the daunting undertakings; I’d have to work out the route, organise a support crew and work with the coastguards to ensure a safe and timely crossing of the Solent (a major shipping route for passengers, freight and military vessels). Above all else, I’d have to deal with the fact that the whole enterprise could fail.


With the Ironman done I didn’t know what to do next. Of course, I could work to improve my time but I felt like I needed to do something different. Something that would be my own and give me an opportunity to put myself to real use for the benefit of others.

So in May this year I launched Tri for Bestival to raise money for Make a Wish Foundation UK, who grant wishes to young people suffering from life-threatening illnesses. It’s a charity that means a lot to me for the fact that I appreciate the good fortune most of us have in being able to enjoy a healthy and happy life.

One month in and the plans are gradually coming together. There are going to be times when I’ll wonder why I’m putting this pressure on myself, but then I’ll be reminded that not all triathlons finish with an Elton John show!

You can follow Steven’s progress to September’s Bestival right here and sponsor him at JustGiving. More info is at his facebook page and the @stiffey Twitter feed.

Profile image of Matt Baird Matt Baird Editor of Cycling Plus magazine


Matt is a regular contributor to 220 Triathlon, having joined the magazine in 2008. He’s raced everything from super-sprint to Ironman, duathlons and off-road triathlons, and can regularly be seen on the roads and trails around Bristol. Matt is the author of Triathlon! from Aurum Press and is now the editor of Cycling Plus magazine.