A GROUP of athletes in Westhoughton have joined forces to run the equivalent of six marathons.

Members of the Howfen Runners each ran their own routes, adding the distance together to complete the Howfen Virtual Marathon on Sunday.

The 40 runners were split into six groups to complete the race, with all teams managing to complete their 26.2 miles in under five hours.

Debbie Croston organised the event to help the group feel connected, and to raise the spirits of runners who should have been completing the Bolton Marathon on Sunday.

She said: “Before all this started our group was very active, we were running three or four times a week.

“I noticed it had all gone a little quiet and I thought lets do something – we had ten runners signed up for the marathon and five for the 10k so a virtual marathon seemed fitting.

“We had 39 people sign up so I split people up into teams and we had fun with it, there was a bit of banter between teams and it was great fun.

“The hardest part about running is putting your trainers on and getting out the door but because you had a team that you would be letting down if you stayed in it was motivating.

"It's been brilliant seeing all the pictures and everybody cheering each other on."

Each person was assigned a distance that they would be capable of running within the hour people were allowed outside to exercise under previous lockdown rules.

Some runners were given slightly longer distances, with two teams of five each running 5.24 miles to reach the total.

Newer athletes, such as those doing the Couch to 5k scheme, were given shorter legs, with three teams of eight challenged to finish 3.275 miles each.

The final team had four members run five miles each, with two people completing 3.1 miles to reach the goal.

As the event was a big hit, the club is hoping to host another team race around Christmas, with teams challenged to beat their own times.