Ironman UK set for Lancashire return

Athletes prepare for the swim during the Ironman UK event last year
Athletes prepare for the swim during the Ironman UK event last year

One of Britain’s toughest endurance challenges returns to Lancashire this weekend.

Across the weekend, thousands of people be part of the action as IRONMAN UK returns for the eighth time in its 12 year history.

The main event is Sunday when IRONMAN UK gets underway at 6am at Pennington Flash, Wigan before taking in some stunning scenery on the Lancashire bike course, running through to the finale in Bolton’s Le Mans Crescent 17 hours later at 11pm. More than 2,500 athletes have registered to take on this ultimate IRONMAN challenge of swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles, culminating with a 26.2 mile marathon run.

Leading the way will be some of the finest IRONMAN pro triathletes, battling it out for the $50,000 prize purse, whilst also looking for qualifying points towards their IRONMAN World Championship Pro rankings.

In the Men’s Pro field, IRONMAN UK welcomes Germany’s Michael Raelert for the first time together with recent IRONMAN 70.3 Staffordshire Champion, Markus Thomschke as favourites against UK’s Fraser Cartmell, Harry Wiltshire and Ritchie Nicholls. However a spread of entries from Europe and further afield, including Romain Guillaume (FRA), Andrej Vistica (HRV) and Krill Kotsegarov (EST) are certain to be putting the German’s under pressure for the title.

In the Women’s Pro race, 2013 and 2015 Champion Lucy Gossage returns to defend her title. Relishing racing on home soil and fresh from also winning IRONMAN 70.3 Staffordshire last month, Gossage is firm favourite amongst a small but strong female field including Tine Deckers (BEL), Alyssa Geodesy (USA) and Germany’s Kristin Moeller and Katja Konschak all hoping for a podium finish in the UK for the first time.

From the 2,500 entries, 38 countries will be represented with athletes from the age of 18 to 70 from all walks of life, each with their own story to tell as to why they’ve entered such a challenge.

Losing weight, battling health problems, marking milestone birthdays and charity fundraising are just some of the inspirational reasons why competitors are taking part, with a remarkable 49% embarking on an IRONMAN for the first time.

Thousands of spectators are expected and welcomed across the route, which starts from Pennington Flash, Wigan. The 2 lap cycle course will take athletes through the rolling Lancashire countryside and hot spot villages including Rivington, Belmont, Adlington, Hillsdale and Standish before heading off on their 26.2 mile run from the Macron Stadium. Music, entertainment and crowds will then be cheering them on all the way to Bolton’s town centre for the finish line.

The weekend’s events are free for spectators to come and watch. With IRONMAN UK action taking place across Lancashire there are a number of opportunities and venues to view the event. The Macron Stadium/ Middlebrook Retail Park will be live from around 11.30am to 5.30pm and Le Mans Crescent in Bolton town centre, where the first athlete is expected to finish around 2:30pm.

Whilst there are road closures in place, the Middlebrook retail park will remain open throughout the duration of the race, so access for shoppers will not be affected.