HORWICH is ready to welcome cyclists, swimmers, runners and even unicyclists for the town’s showpiece sporting event, the annual festival of racing.

The sporting extravaganza, which takes place from June 11 to June 15, will see Horwich invaded by swathes of racers who will be taking part in a wide range of events in and around the town.

This year marks the 13th races festival since it was re-instated in 2002 and for the first time in several years, the event will coincide with the Horwich Carnival, which is being held on Sunday, June 15.

The carnival procession will now be incorporated into the races timetable, with a parade travelling through the town at noon.

The festival will begin on Wednesday, June 11, with the Horwich Cycling Club Hill Climb, starting at the junction of Church Street and Chorley Old Road at 7.30pm.

Sunday is the main races day and will feature cycling, running and walking events for all ages and abilities, as well as the National Unicycle road race and a fancy dress fun run.

The festival committee had originally planned to have a “Mad Dash” event involving scooters, skateboards and roller blades but was unable to obtain the necessary insurance.

There will also be no street orienteering at this year’s races because of a clash of dates — but it is expected to return to the schedule in 2015.

However, there will be two new events at this year’s festival — both aiming to promote the event as accessible for all. The Adapted Cycle Ride, for those who struggle with regular bikes, will cover a route from the Public Hall in Lee Lane to the Crown Hotel and back again and has been supported by Sport and Active living and Bolton Council, which is sponsoring the race.

Another new race is the veteran’s cycle race, which is aimed at competitors aged 40 and over.

Organisers also want to mark the centenary year of the start of World War One and every child entering an event will receive a special medal to mark this.

Neil Brown, who has organised the event with former Mayor of Bolton, Barbara Ronson, since 2002, said: “We have held our final committee meeting before the races and everyone is looking forward to a record-breaking year.

“The entries are ahead of last year’s and we expect considerably more on the day.

“We would like to thank Horwich Council and Bolton Council for their huge support and we extend this to all our sponsors.”

For more information go to horwichfestivalofracing.co.uk