Over 1200 brave competitors took to the roads around Chorley to compete in one of sport’s toughest tests on Sunday.
The daunting Ironman UK triathlon, consisting of a 2.4 mile swim, a
112 mile bike ride and a full 26.2 mile marathon, took place over a course covering Leigh, Chorley and Horwich on the way to the finish in Bolton town centre.
For the elite athletes in the field, 50 qualification spots were up for grabs at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, in October.
Meanwhile, hundreds of others simply hoped to cross the finishing line before the 17-hour cut off time in order to be able to call themselves Ironmen.
Records tumbled as the professionals attacked the notoriously difficult course, Aaron Farlow of Australia winning the race in a course-record time of 8 hours 24 minutes 33 seconds, in the process becoming the first man to complete the bike leg of Ironman UK in under five hours and running a spectacular time of 2 hours 41 minutes for the marathon.
Early leader Romain Guillaume of France was second, while Nick Saunders was the first Brit home to complete the podium. The women’s race was won by Germany’s Kristin Moeller, who also ran an incredibly quick marathon of 2 hours 41 minutes to beat her German compatriot Diana Riesler into second place, smashing the course record with her finishing time of 9 hours 19 minutes 4 seconds.
Defending champion Yvette Grice was once again the best of the British women, but she had to settle for third.
Altogether over 1050 competitors managed to finish the arduous race, with Ken Hall becoming the final Ironman to be crowned 12 minutes before the 11pm cut-off.
One of the day’s most inspiring stories came courtesy of 26-year-old Royal Marine Commando Joe Townsend, who, despite being a double amputee, completed the course in under 13 hours.
The beautiful and undulating bike course showed off the countryside around Chorley as competitors faced three laps of a loop winding through Rivington, Abbey Village, Buckshaw Village, Euxton, Eccleston and Adlington before finishing at the transition zone at Rivington and Blackrod High School.
Feed stations were set up in Buckshaw Village and on New Road, Rivington, providing excellent spots for spectators and photographers to watch the action, while crowds gathered at the junctions across the moors to cheer on the competitors.
Those who missed out on the action will get another chance to enjoy the event, as race organisers confirmed that the event will be back next year.