Aberfeldy and Highland Perthshire have been attracting multi-sport athletes to the area for almost 35 years. The locale providing a wonderful training landscape for swim bike and run. Coupled with the original Aberfeldy Recreation Centre offering an ideal base for strength and conditioning and classroom based coaching activities, Aberfeldy became a mecca for Multi-Sport athletes.
So, when did this all start? Well, back in the late 80’s a local organising team were delivering fundraising mountain bike and running events to raise money for a community Recreation Centre and swimming pool. Once this was built pool-based Triathlons were added to their Events programme over Standard, Sprint, Ironman and Half Ironman distances. Yep, Ironman swim distance in a 25m pool, that would be 152 lengths then, plus some very good lap counters. Full distance and half distance Ironman events flip flopped across alternate years, half distance on even years and full distance on odd years until 2000 when both distances ran on the same day. Aberfeldy also became a popular training venue for Scottish Clubs and the early Scottish Triathlon National Squads, which proved to be useful feeder activity into the Events. Check out our historic results Aberfeldy Historical Results.
From the mid 90’s onwards all the Aberfeldy Events were growing on the back of the increase in Triathlon participation. However, the longer distances of Half and Full Ironman seemed to be the most popular and soon became synonymous with Aberfeldy. Triathlon was also seeing rapid expansion in Open Water events and murmurings within the Recreation Centre Management team were being had about moving the longer distance events into Open Water.
So, in the late spring of 96, the then Recreation Centre Manager Richard Pearson began some initial conversations about a possible Open water event which would happen in the summer of 97. Like all good event scopes this all began with a conversation in a Pub. Joined by two legends of triathlon, Paul Gallagher and Mike Joiner Richard started a plan to deliver the first Ironman distance triathlon on Sunday 17 August 1997.
That first event attracted just 27 Athletes, but little did Richard know what he had created from that initial scoping exercise held in the pub with Paul and Mike. Over the next 15 years the event would grow to a consistent 200 – 300 annual entries and became the host of the Scottish long-distance championships. The next breakthrough for the event came in 2014 when it hosted the British Middle-Distance Championships alongside the Scottish Championships, attracting 750 athletes Richard his organising team and group of fantastic volunteers were thrilled to also win the coveted British Triathlon Event of the Year Award 2014.
2014 gave the event a great boost and for the next 4 years the annual entries grew to a consistent 500+. In 2017 the event moved its event base to Kenmore in an attempt to reduce the number of venues and further improve the overall event experience for athletes and spectators. In 2019 British Triathlon again awarded the Event, British Middle-Distance Championship hosts, which was successfully delivered on a very wet August day.
The event always attracted a strong and loyal age group audience but it began to be noticed by elite athletes and it welcomed many over the years including:
- Paul Gallagher
- Lesley Patterson
- Catriona Morrison
- Scott Neyedli
- Fraser Cartmell
- Stephen Sheldrake
- Rachel Joyce
- Mark Livsey
- Nicki Bartlett
- Bud Johnston
- Erik Seedhouse
- Ted As
Aberfeldy athletes are loyal too, George Burns has completed every open water event bar 3. The event also welcomed Karen Darke, British Paralympian in 2007, who completed the event in some of the worst weather conditions we have ever experienced.
The community support for the Aberfeldy Triathlon has been consistently amazing over the years, without which the event would not have developed into what we see today. Individual and groups of volunteers continue to come back and support us in so many ways, for which we are very grateful.
So, this brings us to 2020, which would have been the 23rd iteration of the Aberfeldy Triathlon (Open Water) until COVID-19 struck and sadly this year could not happen. The good news though is that Aberfeldy Triathlon will be back and stronger in 2021 and once again hosting The British and Scottish Middle-Distance Championships, we look forward to welcoming everyone on August 15th.