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Outrage greets IMUK's decision to shorten bike leg by 17 miles

Fires and algae cause havoc for Ironman UK, but competitors feel short-changed by forced changes. Here we put some questions to Ironman about their decisions

The announcement from Ironman UK that they are to shorten the bike leg by 17 miles, making it 95 instead of the custom 112, has caused debate and outrage on social media. 

Ironman made the decision because of the Winter Hill fire near Bolton, saying that this was the only solution, "which enables the race to go ahead, and ensures our athletes, volunteers, marshals and staff remain safe.'


#heroes #winterhillfire #home

A post shared by @ haybaby85 on Jun 30, 2018 at 2:41pm PDT

However many are questioning on social media whether those that complete have the right to call themselves an Ironman, and why they couldn't include an extra loop to make up the distance. There are also calls for compensation/entry fees to be reimbursed or the right to defer the entries.

We spoke to Ironman and put these questions to them;

What's been changed on the bike course and why? 

Due to recent wildfires, and after extensive consultation with our council partners, local authorities and other key stakeholders, a decision was taken to implement an alternate bike course for IRONMAN UK.   Athletes will exit Transition 1 at Pennington Flash as normal and ride 15 miles to the start of the 2-lap section.  

After climbing Babylon Lane athletes will now TURN LEFT onto Nickleton Brow instead of heading past New Road Rivington. The aid station will now be located on Nickleton Brow.

Athletes will cross Rivington Reservoir via Knowsley Lane and continue onto Moor Road. Moor Road is a technical climb with a long descent. After climbing Moor Road athletes can enjoy panoramic views of the North West before starting the technical descent.

The course will then merge onto Higher House Lane before taking a right onto Hollin Lane, left onto Coppice Lane, right onto Tithe Barne Lane merging onto Chapel Lane before re-joining the original course in Wheelton on the A674.


What will happen to competitors who decide to repeat a loop on the bike leg to make up the distance? 

 Athlete safety is our priority. Athletes who decide to repeat a loop will present a safety risk to other competitors which can result in a disqualification, in accordance with Competition Rules 5.01.e  

Has the bike cut off times changed? 

 No. Cut-off times have not changed.  

Are those who really want to do the distance allowed to defer their entry?  

Deferrals are unfortunately not possible. All events are subject to change due to external occurrences and with this year’s race affected by wildfires, the changes are necessary for the race to safely go ahead. While we sympathise, we aim to continue to deliver an athlete experience to its fullest possible extent. Unfortunately the environmental effects on Ironman UK have occurred beyond our control and our team, who have planned and prepared for the race for more than a year, do not take lightly this decision to change the planned course.  

Why has the race remained a Kona qualifying race?

 Kona slots are allocated to all Ironman races on a pre-determined basis. It is standard procedure that an adjusted race remains an official qualifier. Kona qualification is awarded to athletes that perform top in their age group. As all Ironman UK athletes will continue to compete against others in their age category, and all complete the same race distance, Kona qualification still stands.  

Does these changes make it easier to qualify for Kona from IMUK, compared to other Ironman qualifiers?

    No, Ironman UK remains a challenging event and every athlete completes the same distance. Qualification is based on age group position, not finish time in relation to other events.  

Is the swim affected by algae?   

The recent heatwave across the UK has caused a rise in blue-green algae levels and rising water temperature at the swim venue at Pennington Flash. With weather conditions affecting the presence and dissipation of blue-green algae, we will continue to monitor the swim venue through water quality testing. If the swim gets cancelled the event will commence as a bike-run.  

Was cancelling or postponing the race ever an option?  

Our aim is deliver a safe race despite the circumstances. Cancellation is a last resort if the race cannot be delivered safely,  however the changed course allows for a safe race.

What do you think? Should Ironman have offered compensation/deferred entry? 


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Those who are feeling short changed etc etc need to spend a day or two in the fireman’s boots to see the devastation caused by the fires. I am no supporter of Ironman the brand they are money grabbing and don’t really care for the competitors however, in this instance you only needed to look at the news for the last three weeks to know this was likely to happen. It will still be a competitive bike even without the sheep house hill climb, can you call yourself an Ironman after completeing this event YES you bloody well can. Should you be allowed to defer YES you bloody well should! They have changed the course necessarily but should still allow people to defer because of it, but as some says they have your money and your blood why not take it all.

Mark Lysons

I went to watch Ironman Stafford 70.3,absolutely chaotic and the organisers didn't care. Having done 70.3 and Full distances not Ironman branded this announcement strengthens my belief to never even consider one of their events. They should be brave and offer full refunds and deferment or tarnish their branding forever.


Similarly. I'm no Mdot fan, and choose to do non Mdot events.
But people get a grip .if anyone has been within 20 miles of Winter Hill on the past 2 weeks you can see a huge plume of smoke and smell it. I for one would not wish to ride through it. It was bad enough in a car.
There really is no other option. I'm surprised they've managed to get 95 miles in. People will realise it is still hard when they climb up onto Anglesark on an overgeared TT bike.

Blue green algae. Again a natural risk. Plenty of other events impacted before now for it.

Mdot entrants already have more money than sense. Should have supported independents like the Outlaw or Lakesman, for 200 quid less.


With a little thought most outrage will pass into acceptance. The organisers have to put safety first because all to often many competitors don't. Want examples: Consider the Windsor Tri horse rider episode - does anyone really think that passing close or on the left was ever a good idea: Ripon Tri a couple of years ago I saw a guy cycling no handed in a group putting his number belt on as he wandered all over the road or stand at the mount/dismount line of any event and see how many do them both safely - yet 20min of training will sort it out.

Enjoy the race, its still going ahead. Can always push it a bit more on the bike


If its not full distance its not an IM. Still possible the swim is cancelled too. I tried to get a deferral to next year but was told I was outside of the 45 day period - how the hell could I have predicted this! Section 9 of online waiver states IM can amend or cancel event WITHOUT COMPENSATION! Looking at Consumer Rights Act 2015 contract 'fairness test'. Won't go anywhere near IM in the future. No sporting ethos about them just a big ugly business. Look elsewhere and support grass routes event from now on.

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