THREE times a champion.

It was a happy reunion for superfit Lucy Gossage and Bolton as she secured her third win in the Ironman triathlon.

The qualified doctor declared her love for the town and the course as she crossed the line in a time of nine hours, 26 minutes and five seconds.

She was cheered on in Le Mans Crescent as she secured the top women's position for the second year in a row.

Currently a full-time athlete, the 36-year-old from Cambridge had tears in her eyes as she crossed the finishing line before running back down the final few yards of the course to thank supportive crowds and family.

She said: "I love it, it's my favourite race Bolton. Look at the people here today! All that support is amazing and you never get bored on the course, it's a great challenge.

"People need to race here. When you see the race it is just so good, it's the only other race I have ever loved. It's a good tough fight to get through and it's technically interesting. Today was very special to me, I felt very emotional racing through the town."

Coming in second place was Tine Deckers from Belgium in nine hours, 45 minutes and 21 seconds, while Germany's Katja Konschak secured third position in ten hours, 13 minutes and 18 seconds.

Hundreds enjoyed the sunshine and exciting atmosphere as they gathered in the town centre which marks the end of the 26.2 mile run.

The welcoming sight of the finish line arch greeted tired competitors who started the run from the Macron Stadium along Chorley New Road and Ravenswood Drive to Le Mans Crescent.

After hours of battling the heat, winner of the men's race was Estonia athlete Kirill Kotsegarov, who draped his country's flag proudly over his shoulders as he crossed the line in a time of eight hours, 41 minutes and 13 seconds.

The 29-year-old competed in Bolton back in 2014 and was cheered on by his girlfriend and friends for his second attempt at the course.

He said: "The run and route here is amazing. It was great to have all the support from the crowd and it was also the first time my girlfriend has seen me race!

"The crowd is amazing. There were so many people out for the cyclists, it was great to see. I would love to return for another year."

Coming in second in a time of eight hours, 50 minutes and three seconds was Markus Thomschke from Germany.

The 32-year-old full time athlete also returns for a second time after competing in the Bolton Ironman in 2014.

"I have raced all over the world but here the spectators are very loud and give you a very good feeling," he said.

"The layout of the course is also very good, with some great bends and the finish line is very impressive.

"The atmosphere has been great and everyone has been supportive."

Croatia's Andrej Vistica finished third with a time of eight hours, 58 minutes and 50 seconds.