IRONMAN UK blew through Bolton at the weekend, completely taking over the town.

Almost 2,000 competitors swam, cycled and ran their way to the title of Ironman, covering a total distance of 123.6 miles.

The professionals did the feat in around eight hours, crossing the finish line in Victoria Square with a smile on their faces.

Joe Skipper, Marc Duelson and Fabian Rahn took first, second and third places in the men’s, while Lucy Gossage, Camilla Lindholm Borg and Angela Naeth were the women’s podium finishers.

Norwich-born Joe Skipper, aged 30, took the title for the first time, describing the feeling as “brilliant”. He finished with a time of 7hr 55min 34 sec. He came third last year.

Mr Skipper kept to the front of the race throughout and said he was pleased with where he started the run — he was first off his bike with a time of 7hr 55min 34sec.

He said: “I felt really good when I got of the bikes I thought ‘yeah this could be a could day’.”

His girlfriend, Laura Meen, aged 30, is a doctor and said there are “pros and cons” to living with such a committed athlete.

She added: “It’s been a pretty good atmosphere here today, quite lively, but definitely the finish line is the bubbliest place.”

Second place went to Germany’s Marc Duelsen, who was almost seven and a half Marc Duelsen, 32, finished second, only 7 minutes and 20 seconds behind Mr Skipper, but said that the Brit is ‘a great guy’ and deserved the win.

He said: “Joe was really strong and I had no chance today. He’s a really great runner.

“Maybe I could have pushed a little bit harder on the bike, but today he’s the winner and I’m happy with my second place.”

The German from Stuttgart said that the support he gets from his wife, who was waiting for him by the finish line, is crucial to his success.

Fabian Rahn, from Cologne, Germany, came third getting his first Ironman podium finish and was over the moon with his achievement.

Mr Rahn said: “I’m feeling great it’s definitely an awesome feeling.

“It was so hard.”

Mr Rahn said he and fellow podium finisher Mr Duelson had taken a wrong turn on the cycling route and lost a few minutes before being corrected by marshals.

He said: “I had a situation where I rode the wrong way before the marshals said and I had such a panic because I lost about three or five minutes and then they said ‘come back, come back’ and the same happened to Marc. I panicked but I reached third place and everything is good.

“I love Bolton now. The crowd is awesome.”

He described the 24C temperatures as “perfect” for him.

More than half an hour ahead of her nearest competitor, Lucy Gossage danced her way to the finish line, soaking up the cheers of the crowd,

Her watch told her she had completed 36,000 steps on the road to her fifth Ironman UK title.

The 38-year-old doctor from Cambridge completed the gruelling course in 8hr 51 min 18 sec.

She said: “It was really good. The support is always amazing and I think each year I race here it gets better. It’s a shame there wasn’t a closer race because it’s a bit more rewarding when it’s closer but you can only beat who turned up.

“I was quite sad actually finishing, I don’t think I’ll be back next year. I think I’ll be done with Ironman.”

The second woman across the line was Sweden’s Camilla Lindholm Borg, who had had a tougher day than some. She was kicked during the swim and her bike chain came loose but she was thrilled to make it over the line.

This was her first time on the Bolton course, which she said was “brutal” and her first Ironman this year.

She had been third for a lot of the race, but overtook Angela Naeth from Canada, as the third woman through the Ironman arch, to complete her sixth Ironman, her first in England.

The 36-year-old said: “I’m feeling good, it was a good experience and a wonderful course, it was all very hard, even the swim — it was a non-wetsuit for us — so coming out of the water I was super chilled which was very difficult and the bike course was just phenomenally technical.

“The crowds here have been amazing. I mean it’s such an experience. It was really a fun, fun course.”

Ms Naeth was especially pleased to finish having being diagnosed with Lyme Disease this year.

She said: “I’m battling that and racing myself back to health so I’m progressing each and every time.”

Bolton Council’s Executive Cabinet Member for Culture, Tourism, and Sport, Cllr John Byrne, said: “One again Bolton’s Ironman weekend has been fantastic.

“Athletes from all around the world have travelled to our brilliant town to take part in the most gruelling feat of endurance, and their supporters and our residents have been out in force, cheering them every step of the way.

“It has been a real party atmosphere in the town centre for Bolton’s 10th Ironman event. The support along the route and in Queens Park has also been superb, and people have taken the opportunity to enjoy the glorious weather for this Bolton even

“The world’s largest Ironkids the day before was also absolutely amazing. We are proud to be hosts of Ironman UK — it showcases Bolton at its best.”