IRONMAN is one of the highlights of the year in Bolton ­— and this year it is going to be bigger and better than ever.

The gruelling triathlon will be back in Bolton for the 11th year and this year will see a new cycle route that will bring cyclists into Bolton town centre and along Le Mans Crescent for the first time.

And Bury will be included for the first time.

The new 112-mile cycle route is designed to take the

course into new communities to give more spectators the chance to enjoy the event.

It is hoped the new sections will also boost tourism and local businesses.

Before tackling the new cycle course, the 2,500 athletes will swim the 2.4 mile, two-lap swim course at Pennington Flash.

The race will end with a marathon and runners will cross the finish line in Victoria Square.

Once again there will be an Ironkids event as part of the three-day sports festival which will see thousands of visitors come to the town to support the athletes and enjoy the competition.

The contest is a feather in the cap for Bolton, which shows it can stage a world-class event and has kept people coming back for more.

As well as boosting the town’s sporting prowess, it is also good for business, with hotels, restaurants and shops poised to do well from the event.

Even for those who are not athletic, it is a real feel-good factor for the town.