BOLTON'S first marathon in three decades is less than 100 days away and youngsters in the borough are jumping at the opportunity to get involved.

The countdown is on as the big day, May 17, approaches. and there are some unexpected addition to the race.

Whole schools across the borough have pledged to get active with the help of marathon organisers in a new challenge for primary schools.

Students are challenged to do 15 minutes of activity a day, followed by lessons about each stage of the route so kids can themselves 'run the marathon'.

Race director Richard Smith said: "We want to give back to the community and it made sense for us to start with schools."

The challenge will run over 42 days, marking each of the 42 stages of the marathon race.

Mr Smith said: "We are sending out packs to each schools with a map of the different stages and we're asking them to do 15 minutes of activity, it could be throwing beanbags for little ones, for older ones that could be actually running around a football field.

"Once they have finished the activity, they moved to the next stage of the map in class. Teachers can use the map however they want, they could teach the history of the place on the map or use the race to help in maths lessons, calculating speed.

"We have had 60 out of 104 schools signing up in the last 10 days. That equates to 18,569 children.

"The idea is that we want to have all 30,000 children in Bolton active in the future so there is still a way to go."

The challenge begins on February 24.