Ironmen: Jim Butterfield and Gerry Benson take time out in Hawai’i ahead of the Ironman World Championships in 1981. *Photo supplied
Ironmen: Jim Butterfield and Gerry Benson take time out in Hawai’i ahead of the Ironman World Championships in 1981. *Photo supplied

Sport can boast countless father-son dynasties — the Griffeys, the Mannings, the Earnhardts etc.

But few know that the 1981 Ironman in Hawai’i was the start of two more — both with unbreakable ties to Bermuda.

The first is the better known on the island. Anyone who has not read about Jim Butterfield and his son Tyler the past few weeks has had their head in the Horseshoe Bay sand.

Thirteen days ago, two-time Olympian Tyler, 30, emulated his father’s seventh-place finish at the 1981 Ironman World Championship in Kona.

Jim, president of Butterfield & Vallis, was not only a running and triathlon stalwart, he also turned his hand — or should that be lungs — to rowing and remains the only person to represent Bermuda at that event in the Olympics.

But move a little further down the 1981 finishing positions to 89th and you’ll find another fine athlete, Gerry Benson, who served as a Detective Constable in the Bermuda Police Force from 1975 to late 1981.

A genuine sporting all-rounder, many will remember his willingness to get in the ring with Clarence Hill (he was beaten but far from disgraced). Gerry now runs a small farm in West Yorkshire from where he avidly follows the progress of his son Gordon, who is one of the top emerging triathletes in the UK and who won the Eton Dorney ETU Triathlon Junior European Cup this year and came fifth in London’s ITU World Triathlon Grand Final last month.

It all means there is a genuine chance a Benson and a Butterfield will line-up alongside each other again — but this time at the Commonwealth Games.

“That would be incredible,” Jim Butterfield told the Bermuda Sun. “We stayed in touch enough to know Gerry’s son was quite a competitive triathlete. It would be extraordinary — really, really fun.”

A few stars need to align first. Tyler would need to shorten his distances from the epic Ironman and probably sacrifice some income.

Jim said: “That’s how he makes his living. A lot of people think it’s his old man that supports him. We give him some help but it’s prize money and sponsors that give him a living — he works hard to get a pay cheque.”

For Gordon, 19, emerging from the junior ranks, the Games are, at this stage, much more of a focus — and he knows he is effectively competing for just one spot.

“England has got three starts at the Commonwealths and two of them will get taken by Ali and Jonny [Brownlee),” Gordon told the Yorkshire Evening Post. “But the third one is wide open.”

Dave Barber, a retired police officer who worked with Gerry, remains good friends with the Bensons and follows the performances of Gordon closely. 

He told the Sun: “Like father like sons, isn’t it?

“You’d have got pretty long odds on it I would think. But it would great if they could meet up at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

“Who’d have thought you’d have two fathers who took part in the same Ironman and then years later have sons doing really well in the sport of triathlon?”

For Jim, he says Gerry’s early commitment to going to Hawai’i — just the fourth World Ironman on the island — spurred him on.

“Gerry was the one who said ‘I’m going to do the Ironman’ and I said ‘if Gerry was going to do it, I was going to do it’.

 “We both had no swimming background so we had to up our game.”

He added: “We met up a lot at the cross country meets, which is where we did a lot of training. He was a very private person — he would go out cycling in the dark and being a policeman he had all those odd hours. We hoped to train together but we didn’t.”