BRIAN Fogarty has set his sights on winning Ironman UK and righting the wrongs of last year.

The 35-year-old from Blackburn is among the favourites to win the gruelling Bolton event on Sunday – but he wants to replicate the form of 2017 and not the disaster of 2018.

Fogarty failed to finish after struggling with the swim and crashing twice on the bike, a complete contrast to what had happened 12 months previous.

“I was fourth overall in 2017, was first amateur and set a new course record on the bike,” he said.

“It was from that performance and that result that enabled me to turn professional.

“Last year, I was confident I could go on and win it but it turned out to be a disaster.

“I had a lot of family and friends there cheering me on but it all went horribly wrong.

“Hopefully it will be a different story this time.”

Fogarty’s troubles started in the water.

“For some reason, the swim was non wetsuit for the professionals and swimming is the weakest of my disciplines,” he recalls of last year’s event.

“When I took up competing in Ironman competitions, I basically had to learn to swim from scratch. While I am improving, I’m still not great and swimming without the wetsuit cost me dear.”

Fogarty was 20 minutes adrift of his main rivals by the time he climbed out of the water and all hope of catching them on the bike ended when he suffered a puncture.

Another puncture and subsequent crash ended his day.

It proved to be a miserable debut year as a professional for Fogarty who was once on the books at Burnley FC and cleaned the boots of Glen Little and played alongside Richard Chaplow in the academy team.

He competed with a fractured foot, didn’t get the results and lost his pro licence.

But a year on he is in a happier place.

Fogarty and his wife, Maria, have had their first child – daughter Eslyn who is now six months old – is working with his brothers Richard and Phillip in the family insurance business and now, back in the amateur ranks, is fit, firing and ready to go.

Fogarty heads to his ‘home’ event is fine form having finished 11th place overall and first amateur at Ironman Lanzarote in May that earned him a place in the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii in October.

“That was the best performance of my career so far,” said the former Lancashire Telegraph advertising rep. “I had another puncture and lost a little bit of time but I was delighted with the way it all went.

“I took time out last year due to the injury and things just didn’t happen for me. But we had our daughter Eslyn and that just changes everything.”

Fogarty classes Ironman UK as one of the toughest in the world but he loves testing himself on a course that will venture more in to his home town borough of Blackburn with Darwen this year.

“There have been changes to the course that I don’t particularly agree with and it is no longer a pro event for some reason,” added Fogarty, cousin of World Superbike champion Carl. “It’s a shame the bike route has changed as I set a course record two years ago and having another go at that would have been ideal.

“But I love competing in Bolton. It’s my home event and the whole reason I got in to doing Ironman events.

“It’s one of the toughest in the world and some people don’t fancy it for that reason but it is one I wouldn’t miss.”

With a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and then a marathon, the Ironman is regarding as one of sport’s most gruelling challenges – Fogarty would not have it any other way.

“All I ever knew after I left school was football,” said Fogarty who also had a spell at Wigan Athletic before playing for Bamber Bridge and Darwen among other non league clubs.

“But when that didn’t work out and I got injured, I turned to running and that eventually led to the Ironman.”

Fogarty could be forgiven for playing down his chances after what happened last year but he is confident he can clinch Ironman UK glory.

“I have to be able to back it up but I am confident I can win it,” he said. “I’m free from injury and I showed in Lanzarote that I am in good condition and I have just been ticking over since then.

“Things can go wrong, just as they did last year, but I strongly believe I can win it.”

Despite a change in the course, Fogarty is leaving nothing to chance and has left no stone unturned and no pot hole unnoticed after several reccies and ride-outs.

“I’ve checked out the course several times so I know it like the back of my hand,” he said. “It’s tougher, more challenging and probably not as fast as previous years but I won’t be holding back.”

Fogarty says his long-term goal is to turn professional again and victory in Bolton would do that cause no harm at all.

“Winning Ironman UK will give me some extra exposure,” he said.

“My plan is to have another crack at being a professional and doing well here would help.”