THE first Bolton Marathon in over 30 years has been postponed due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

The landmark event was set to return the town on May 16 and 17 after being resurrected by race director Richard Smith.

On Monday organisers said they were working hard to ensure the race would go ahead.

However Mr Smith today announced that the event will have to be rescheduled in order to protect participants, organisers and volunteers; and reduce the impact on the emergency services.

A new date for the marathon is yet to be confirmed.

The Bolton News:

In a statement, Mr Smith said: "Sorry we’ve been off the radar a little over these past few days, but as I said in my social media video on Saturday, we have been taking stock of all the options and advice available to us and are working hard to put the right plan into action for these challenging months ahead.

"In light of the Government’s most recent recommendations, we have taken the very difficult decision to postpone the Bolton Marathon weekend on May 16 and 17, 2020, to later this year.

"Whilst our event is still two months away, it would be wrong and irresponsible of me to keep following our plan knowing full well that there is a very high chance that we would be forced to cancel anyway.

"As a mass participation event it is our responsibility to act accordingly to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved with our events and to minimise the possible spread of coronavirus and the impact on our awesome emergency services and NHS."

This year marks the first time Bolton was to host a marathon since 1987 - with organisers aiming for an ambitious return.

The challenging route of the resurrected race was revealed in September last year and features an infamous feature from past incarnations.

Taking in one-lap, the race was due to start and end in Queens Park and see runners tackle the 2.1 mile uphill stretch of Plodder Lane which gave previous editions of the event its brutal reputation.

Organisers were also bidding to make the marathon the most environmentally-friendly event of its kind in the world by becoming the first to operate without products made from single use plastics.

The Bolton News:

Mr Smith added: "I know you all want to know a new date for the event as soon as possible, however, there are a lot of pieces to the jigsaw that we have to move around and get to fit together as we work through our new plan, but we want to assure you we are doing everything in our power to ensure this event goes ahead as planned but on another date.

"We set out to deliver an amazing experience for the return of the Bolton Marathon and that’s what we are still striving to give you all. I want to thank our fantastic family of runners, volunteers, partners and sponsors and the amazing support you have given each other and all of us at Bolton Marathon HQ. We will send another update with a confirmed date for the Bolton Marathon 2020, Bolton Marathon 10k and the Family Fun Run as soon as we can. We will also include information about refunds, deferral etc at the same time.

"In the meantime, please keep safe and there is always a positive – now you can fit in a bit more hill training and raise more money for some amazing charities. Thank you."