THOUSANDS of visitors are set to boost business in Bolton town centre this weekend.

With Ironman and Ironkids bringing an estimated £2.6 million to the Bolton economy, shops, cafes and restaurants are expecting to profit.

Chris Taylor, manager of Tiffany’s In The Square, said he takes on extra staff for the day to cope with the throngs of people heading to the cafe.

He added: “It’s probably the busiest event of the year — more so than the Christmas light switch-on.

“We have probably two and a half times the normal amount of trade, we’re there all day even through to 11pm.

“We rely on it. It’s been going for a few years and it’s something we look forward to.”

Highgrove Guest House in Manchester Road, a short walk from Bolton train station, is “full to the brim” this weekend, manager Debbie Robinson said.

She says in previous years she has not gone to bed as she runs the 10-bedroom hotel with the help of her family.

The manager of six years said: “It’s a shame, we’re having to turn people away.

“We’ve got people from France and Ireland staying with us, and some made bookings at Christmas last year.

“There aren’t enough guest houses in Bolton to cope with the demand, a lot of them have closed down.

“It’s an excellent event for the town and I get very excited for the competitors.”

Market Place shopping centre has organised its own fitness challenges to coincide with Ironkids on Saturday — as well as a ‘Dad Vs Food’ challenge, where hungry parents will be challenged to eat a two-foot marshmallow as quickly as possible.

Nikki Wilson-Cook, centre manager at Market Place Shopping Centre, said: “We’re proud to welcome Ironkids to Market Place, events like these encourage young people to make positive lifestyle choices by staying active and eating healthily.

“We’ve been blown away by the number of athletes taking part in this year’s event and I, on behalf of everyone at the centre, wish all contestants the very best of luck.”

But others have expressed concerns that only businesses in Victoria Square will benefit.

Tasos Pattichi, owner of Olympus Fish and Chip restaurant, provided 1,000 meals on the finish line a few years ago but has decided not to open his doors this weekend.

He said: “When people come to watch they stick to the centre and they don’t buy anything outside the main square.

“The ones that benefit are the coffee shops, and commercially when I looked at it I decided that if we were going to work it’s not worth it for my staff and it’s not worth it for me.

“It’s brilliant for the town and events like this are absolutely superb, but you will get ratepayers and businesses like me who won’t benefit.”

Bolton has a bumper summer ahead with the Westfield Health British Transplant Games, including The Bolton News Donor Run, taking place between August 7 and 9, and the Bolton Food and Drink Festival once again in town over the August Bank Holiday weekend.