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First Ironman distance triathlon in the UK

First Ironman distance triathlon in the UK

20 years ago this weekend (actually Saturday 7th July 1990), the first Ironman distance triathlon took place in the UK.

It was organised in the Cotswolds by 220 Magazine and if you were a 220 subscriber it only cost £2.20 to enter - it was called the 220 Marathon Triathlon. It started at 6am in lake 12 of Cotswold Water Park, the bike went to Fairford, Burford, Bibury and finished in Cirencester (so two different transition) and then the run was four laps in Cirencester Park.

Swim Director was Trevor Gunning, Run Director Bob Ferris, communications Kev Ferris and Timing Coordinator Lorraine Ferris. All of whom are still involved in organising as part of the TriFerris Promotions crew who host the Cotswold Triathlons every year just two miles away from the original Ironman distance start at Cotswold Water Park & Beach and Off Road Duathlons in Cirencester Park.

There are also many people still involved in triathlon who competed on that day, female winner was none other than our President of the BTF Sarah Springman who finished in 10:23:59 8th overall. Also on the start list was Race Director for the 2012 Olympics John Lunt, Dave Bellingham now Tri England Board Member, Dave Loughran (pictured), now Planet X, Jack Maitland, and Joe Beer, triathlon coach to name a few. the overall winner was Mike Lockwood in 9:37:56.

One of the volunteers was ex BTA chairman Jasmine Flatter now Chair BTF Tech.

The then owner of 220 magazine John Lillie, now retired, was race Director and actually competed in the event and by sheer coincidence yesterday he was cycling part of the 1990 bike course on his week-long cycling 'holiday' where he is cycling from Edinburgh to Poole for 'fun'.

The event went so well that by the next year it was given Ironman status, with Ironman qualifying slots and moved to Ironbridge, and the rest as they say is history.

5 July 2010


  • Keith

    Hi Sid, sorry to bother you. Do you have results you can send me. many thanks Keith [email protected]

  • Keith tannetta

    Hi. My email address is [email protected] Look forward to results. Many thanks Keith

  • Keith tannetta

    As requested here is my email address. Hope this helps,hope you can send results etc. Kind regards. Keith

  • Sid Scoop

    The swim was 1 1/2 miles as the water was deemed to be too cold for the scheduled 2 miles. The run was the full marathon distance. The 2/112/26.2 distance was classed as "British Ironman." The winning time was 9h 18m 09s. Keith - I have all the race results & will forward them to you if you give me your details.

  • Keith Tannetta

    Hi can anyone help me i am looking for a copy of results for 1984 at Tallington lakes,Lincolnshire ironman I took part ,but have lost all information, Hope someone can help. many thanks Keith

  • Keith Tannetta

    Hi all. Wonder if you can help. I am looking for results of Ironman race in 1984.Lincolnshire. I took part and would like a results sheet. Hope some one can assist. Many Thanks Keith

  • David Henley

    The first Ironman Triathlon at Tallington Lakes in 1984 was very well organised by Graham Mcleod, it cost £10 to enter and if I remember no wet suites where allowed and no drafting on the bikes. I was 21 at the time and second youngest in the race. 108 started the race and not all finished. The bike ride took us up through Lincoln, skirting Grantham and returning on the A1. The marathon took us to Sleaford and Boston and was not entirely flat in nature. What a day!

  • bud johnston

    A bit pedantic about distances John, but you are right about the swim,it was quite a bit short.(as are lots of swim courses to this day,even with GPS.) As far as the bike and run courses,we drove round them the day before the race and found them to be 99% accurate. So i dont know where you got the 23 mile figure for the run course. Anyway as far as i'm concerned,Tallington Lakes was the first 'Ironman'distance race in the U.K and i am part of that history.....Best wishes Bud Johnston.

  • John Lillie

    Just to clear up any misunderstanding - the race in 1984 at Tallington Lake was titled "Ironman" but was in fact short of the standard Ironman distance of 2.4 miles swim, 112 miles bike and 26.2 miles run. Bud Johnston "only" swam 2 miles, from what I can gather the bike was about right and the run was around 23 miles. Still long enough to be proud of completing! Ironman being a proprietary name the first British "Ironman distance" race, in 1990, was titled the 220 Marathon Triathlon. So Dave Loughran can also be proud of being on the finishers list of the very first Ironman distance race in the UK.

  • JonB (Planet X Team)

    Thanks Bud, that's interesting history. Cheers.

  • bud johnston

    This story is factually wrong. The first "ironman distance" race took place in 1984 at Tallington lakes,Lincolnshire and was organised by a guy called Graham McLeod. Just checked my diary for that year the actual date was Sat 30th June 1984. How do i know this ?...Coz i was there and did the race. Bud Johnston.

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