IRONMAN Bolton has kicked off with the 5K Night Run through the town centre.

An overcast evening was lit up by hundreds of fluorescent running jerseys as the night runners made their way through Bolton from their starting point at Le Mans Crescent.

Described as a 'family-friendly 5km race through the pedestrianised streets of Bolton', the first of the preliminary events to Sunday's showpiece proved popular, with runners of all abilities turning up to set the weekend off in style.

The runners were started at 7pm by Deputy Mayor Cllr Linda Thomas. They were staggered in terms of ability and predicted 5K times.

Sophie Monk and Jessica Sammon have both competed in half Ironman's recently and thought they would come to flex their credentials.

The Bolton News: Sophie Monk and Jessica Sammon ready to raceSophie Monk and Jessica Sammon ready to race

Sophie said: "It's our birthday too. Mine and Jessica's boyfriend's. We're both 32 today."

There were people who had turned up on their own, as well as large groups, like the Robin Park Runners from Wigan, all 27 of them running dressed in their club t-shirts.

Jane Schofield managed to convince her friend Jennie Grove to commit to the Night Run, despite living all the way down in Peterborough.

Jane said: "IRONMAN goes past my house every year and I've been getting into it through that. I'm not quite fit enough for the proper one so I'm doing this."

The Bolton News: Friends Jane Schofield and Jennie GroveFriends Jane Schofield and Jennie Grove

Jennie said: "I've come all the way from near Peterborough. We're good friends and I wanted to run with her."

Christopher Hill and Kieron Hughes may well have been the most interestingly dressed for the occasion. Their squid outfits purely for the fun of it.

Christopher said: "It's because we're nuts.

"I've done 56 Tough Mudders so we thought we'd come and try this out. It's a warmup for my next Tough Mudder."

The Bolton News: Christopher Hill and Kieron HughesChristopher Hill and Kieron Hughes

Councillor Martyn Cox, Leader of Bolton Council, said: “We’re thrilled the IRONMAN events will be back in Bolton once more this summer.

"These sporting occasions always bring a great sense of fun, excitement, and community spirit to our town, and it’s excellent to see athletes of all ages and abilities taking part throughout the weekend."

The race was won by Matt Smith, a lecturer at Bolton University with a rapid time of 15:31.