SPORTSMEN and women from across the world will be pushing themselves to the limit this week as the seek to conquer Ironman UK 2018.

The gruelling triathlon — billed as one of the toughest in the world — will return to the town on Sunday and thousands are expected to line roads around the borough to watch intrepid participants take on the endurance spectacle.

The event will mark the 10th anniversary of Bolton hosting the popular sporting event, which attracts thousands of competitors and spectators every year.

Since coming to Bolton, the race has grown from hosting 1,500 athletes to more than 2,500 each year and continues to be one of the most popular races amongst athletes from around the UK and the world.

And this one is set to be one of the most popular, with more than 1,300 athletes having already signed up for the event by December.

Entries have come from across the world including Ireland, USA, Germany, Belgium, Singapore and Sweden.

Frenchman Cyril Viennot won the event last year with a time of eight hours, 41 minutes and seven seconds.

Lucy Gossage held on to the title she has won for the previous three years as the first woman to finish the gruelling triathlon.

The event will begin at 6am with swimmers taking to the lake at Pennington Flash.

The cycling section will see competitors embarking on a 112-mile two-loop journey from the nature reserve and through the Lancashire countryside.

The run will begin at Queens Park and athletes will head into Bolton town centre, out and back through Queens Park completing four loops before finishing in Victoria Square.

There will also be youngsters competing on Saturday at the ever popular and world's largest Ironkids 2018.

Tickets for the event all sold out in less than six hours.