NEIL BONNAR: Big events in Bolton bring a sense of pride to the town

NEIL BONNAR: Big events in Bolton bring a sense of pride to the town

NEIL BONNAR: Big events in Bolton bring a sense of pride to the town

First published in Sport

PRIDE in your town is a prerequisite of working for any decent length of time in an industry which serves its public.

I can’t claim to be from Bolton because I’m not. I’m from Bury, but I’ve worked in Bolton and among its people for 25 years and feel it is my town.

It goes with the territory therefore that I look upon Bolton’s successes and concerns with more than mere interest.

I wasn’t happy, for example, when I heard the elephants at the end of Newport Street in the town centre were going to be moved or when Bolton Wanderers were planning to have a high-interest loan company’s name on their shirts. And I feel a veritable glow all over when big events come here and are a success.

SkyRide, the Transplant Games and Ironman UK are three of the summer’s main sporting attractions in Bolton this year.

The Transplant Games is coming for the first time and there will be events all over the town during the course of a few days next month.

Bolton does this kind of thing well and I’m confident it will be a rousing success and the name of Bolton will be taken away by thousands of competitors and visitors and used favourably long into the future.

I don’t say this without foundation. You only have to look at the Ironman.

The ultra-distance swimming, cycling and running event was brought here for the first time in 2009. Few people knew what it was and lots wondered how it would go.

It was a roaring success and has been every year since.

Bolton’s made for Ironman. It possesses perfect terrain for the action – the cycling route always gets a special mention by the athletes, particularly the infamous Sheep House Lane climb.

The townspeople have taken the event to their hearts, some becoming inspired by watching it only to take part in future years.

This Sunday marks the sixth time it will have been staged here and one thing continues to baffle me.

What possesses someone to swim 2.4 miles then cycle 112 miles before running a marathon?

On Sunday there will be around 1,600, many with ordinary jobs and lives who, for a variety of reasons, saw it as a challenge and have trained on average two or three hours a day, six days a week for six to 12 months.

Why? Probably just so they can say they’ve done it.

It’s the achievement that makes them proud. And the fact they do it here should make Bolton proud.

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