Strong welcome for Ironman 

03/08/09
Bolton triathlete Neil Mercer
Bolton triathlete Neil Mercer (Bolton News)

Thousands of spectators from Bolton and beyond turned out to show their support of the Ironman UK contest on Sunday, August 2.

People lined the streets to watch as 1500 competitors took on a gruelling 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and 26 mile run, culminating in a heroes’ welcome in the town centre.

First past the finish line, in Victoria Square, was 20-year-old Philip Graves from York who was making his Ironman UK debut with a time of 8hrs 45mins.

Fastest woman was Bella Bayliss who finished the course in 9hrs 34mins.

And the biggest cheer of the day went to 44-year-old fire fighter Neil Mercer, who was the first Boltonian to cross the finish line in 9hrs 53mins.

His amazing performance as second fastest in the age 40 to 44 category and 22nd overall gained him a place at the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii in October.

Neil summed it up when he said: “There was fantastic support – the crowds never stopped cheering. They made it all worthwhile.”

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