A BLACKBURN man stormed to victory in the Ironman competition yesterday – as the the ultra-triathlon touched down in East Lancashire for the first time.

Brian Fogarty, cousin of Superbikes legend Carl Fogarty, swam, cycled and ran the gruelling 140.6-mile course in a mind-blowing time of 9 hours, 27 minutes to cross the line first outside Bolton Town Hall.

Fogarty, who works for the family insurance firm in Blackburn, said: “It is the best feeling ever. It is something I have dreamed of since I got into the sport.

“I have always done well on this course. I knew I could win, but just needed a bit of luck. The run was tough, but I held it together.

“I did not really have my best of races. I have run better than that but you give what you can on the day and that was enough.”

The victory was in stark contrast to last year when two crashes on the cycling stage saw the 35-year-old former Lancashire Telegraph ad rep fail to finish

He said: “Last year was a disaster. It was heartbreaking for my family and friends who came out to support. I will enjoy it while I can.”

As well as experienced triathletes such as Brian, the event also saw first-timers like Liam Hindle testing themselves over the gruelling cross-county course.

For the cycling leg, promoters had devised a route, after a 2.4 mile swim around Pennington Flash, which took entrants up through Bolton and the outskirts of Ramsbottom to visit Helmshore, the Grane Road and the edge of Darwen.

Liam, from Livesey, had his own extended support crew stationed outside the Grey Mare pub, Belthorn, including fiancee Olivia McManus, stepmum Sally Heppenstall and dad Jimmy.

Jimmy, a veteran of three Ironmans himself, said: “This is Liam’s first but he’s been training with Ben Johnson Triathlon. He’s a really good swimmer and a decent runner and he’s picked up the cycling as he’s gone along.”

Team Hindle also sportingly encouraged hundreds of fellow triathletes as they took the bend from Grane Road into Jackson Heights Road.

Marshals were also kept busy keeping Sunday motorists away from the action, with the B6232 reduced to a single lane southbound to Haslingden.

Riders ended up back in Bolton town centre for the final stint – a marathon taking them through the town’s Queens Park, before the finishing line outside the Albert Halls.

Another spectator, Carla Jenkinson, from Waterside, is a member of Blackburn Road Runners, which supplied a number of participants.

She said: “We always come out to see it but this is different as it’s the first time it’s come into our area.”