Tens of thousands of athletes and spectators flocked to Bolton for the town’s annual Ironman UK spectacular at the weekend.
Bolton town centre was packed as 6,000 people took part in Night Run, Ironkids, and Ironman UK, and friends and families flocked to the town to support them.
This year saw the introduction of Night Run, a new 5k evening run on Friday.
More than 700 people of all ages and abilities started the race, and organisers have hailed the inaugural event a huge success and confirmed that the successful event will be back next year.
First to cross the finish line was George Butler, aged 21, from Astley Bridge, in Bolton. He said: “I really enjoyed the atmosphere. I did a 5k the day before so I’m a bit knackered. I’m hoping to do an Ironman one day.”
The first female finisher was 16-year-old Tamara Ivancova, from Slovakia. It was Tamara’s first visit to Bolton and she loved the race.
“My dad’s doing Ironman and I really enjoyed the run,” she said.
The world’s largest Ironkids race once again took over the town on Saturday with 3,000 children joining in the town centre fun run.
And the town welcomed Ironman UK for the 11th time in its 14-year history on Sunday.
Around 1,900 competitors from 42 countries swam, cycled and ran in the epic Ironman triathlon, finishing in Bolton town centre on Victoria Square.
Brian Fogarty, Francesco Masciarelli and Lukas Siska took first, second and third places in the men’s.
Fogarty, from Blackburn, dedicated the race to his uncle Brian who died 18 months ago.
He took the title for the first time, describing the feeling of completing the “tough” course as “the best feeling in the world” and praised the support.
Kelly Warrington, Emily Freeman, and Julia De Leeuw were the women’s podium finishers.
Emma Wardall and Yann Payen were the first over the finish line in Ironman UK’s first ever Military Division. Emma said: “Bolton is awesome and the support is amazing.”
People also enjoyed the first Festival Zone with live music, bar and food vendors on Oxford Street over the three-day event, and spectators in Queens Park on Sunday were treated to free music.
The Ironman weekend is worth around £4 million a year to the local economy.
Bolton Council Leader, Cllr David Greenhalgh, said: “What a fantastic weekend with a real festival atmosphere.
“The weather held out for us, our spectators were brilliant and once again Bolton can be proud of hosting another successful international sporting event.
“Night Run was a brilliant community event and we believe it was the second largest across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. I’m delighted that it will be back next year.
“Ironkids was once again the world’s largest and I am in awe of everyone who competed in Ironman.
“Bolton town centre was really at the heart of all the action – with athletes cycling into town for the first time as part of the new route.
“We are proud to host Ironman and already counting down to next year.”
Ironman UK Race Director, Sam Brawn, added: “Today was such a brilliant day! The support from the crowds was like none other.
“We can’t thank Bolton enough for hosting Ironman and we cannot wait to do this again next year!”
Organisers have also confirmed next year’s dates: Night Run on July 10, Ironkids on July 11 and Ironman UK 2020 will take place on July 12.
Bolton will continue to host the Ironman UK triathlon until 2022.
General entries for the triathlon will be available online on www.ironman.com/uk on July 22.