Athletes and spectators are gearing up for an incredible day in sport when the Ironman UK triathlon returns to Bolton on Sunday, August 1.
Last year’s race injected £4.5m into the local economy as businesses reaped the reward of thousands of athletes descending on the town.
This year 1,400 athletes have signed up from 35 countries across the world for the 140.6-mile journey.
Ironman UK 2010 takes the athletes on a new route, starting with a 2.4-mile swim in Pennington Flash, in Leigh; followed by a 112-mile bike ride in and around Lancashire finishing with a 26.2-mile marathon in the streets of Bolton.
Councillor Ismail Ibrahim, Bolton Council’s Executive Member for Development and Regeneration, said: “Ironman provided a real boost for local businesses last year and this year’s event should again be fantastic news for the region. It also puts Bolton on the map internationally thanks to a worldwide filming deal. The Ironman is a real test of athletic endurance and we hope the people of Bolton will come out once again, and get behind this incredible sporting event!”
The swim event starts at 6am at Pennington Flash before athletes take to the road for a three lap cycle race.
Stuart Murray of the Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust, which manages Pennington Flash Country Park, said: “The event will showcase the fabulous environment and sporting facilities that have been created in the Leigh area over the last few years. It should inspire people to participate in sport and other activities, particularly in the run up to 2012. Basing the registration around the Leigh Sports Village will really highlight this incredible facility”.
Competitors will head out from Leigh, cycle through Bolton, Rivington, Chorley and the Lancashire countryside. The cycle race provides a challenging course for the athletes to test themselves against and gives plenty of opportunities for local spectators to watch, as the course takes in some local villages in the area.
Councillor John Walker, Chorley Council’s Executive Member (People), said: “It’s great to have an event like this pass through Chorley and I hope people will come out on the day and support the event.
“There are some brilliant places to cycle in the borough and I’m sure the competitors will enjoy the beautiful countryside and scenery.”
On the final lap, cyclists will head back to Rivington and Blackrod High School, to swap their bikes for running shoes, with the first athlete expected to start the marathon at around 11.30am.
The run course follows a similar spectator-friendly route to last year. The runners will leave Lever Park Avenue and head to Chorley New Road near the Crown pub at Horwich. They will continue towards Bolton, past Middlebrook and to the Beehive pub, before heading into Bolton town centre and back along Chorley New Road to do another lap.
For the final lap, athletes follow a route via Chorley Street, Bark Street and Knowsley Street into Oxford Street, crossing the finishing line outside the Town Hall in Victoria Square.
The finish line is sure to be a highlight of the course as athletes finish below the big screen TV in front of Bolton’s historic Town Hall.
Athletes have 17hrs in which to complete the course and the fastest are expected to cross the finish line from 2pm, whilst others will take the full 17hrs finishing at 11pm at night.
Sheldon Phillips, Head of Regional Major Events at the Northwest Regional Development Agency, who was instrumental in bringing the event to the area added: "Ironman was a huge success last year, bringing thousands of athletes and spectators, as well as more than £4million into Bolton. This year we are anticipating a similar success, which is great for local businesses and promotes both Bolton and the region as an ideal location for staging world class sporting events.
"There is a new route in 2010 which will allow more people to see this exciting event which attracts some of the best athletes in their field."
Alison Boon, Ironman race owner, described the event as an amazing sight for both athletes and supporters.
“Ironman is truly an incredible spectacle for athletes and supporters as the athletes battle against the course, themselves, the elements and the fatigue that such an effort entails,” she said.
“Those that rise to the challenge are not ordinary but extraordinary. However the motto of Ironman is ‘anything is possible’ and that is truly the case.”
She added: “Athletes ages will range from 18 through to 70 on race day and mixed between men and women. There will be athletes on the course who will inspire through their courage and determination and will cause many a spectator to think...next year! The beauty of Ironman is that anyone can enter - this is not a pro only race designed for the elites, this is for the athlete who wants to strive to achieve the impossible.”
Ironman is an international event with races in places such as Zurich, Frankfurt, Nice and in countries such as America, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Qualifiers from Ironman UK in Bolton will compete in the Ford Ironman World Championship on October 9 in Kona, Hawaii.
There will be a number of road closures in place for the cycle and run stages. Marshals will be present to allow access for emergency services, residents, businesses and public transport. Middlebrook Retail Park is open as usual.
Detailed swim, bike and run routes are available on the Ironman website. Road closure information can also be accessed from the link on the right hand side.