The town centre is buzzing with energy and excitement today as dedicated young athletes come to the borough from all over the country to take part in the largest Ironkids event in the world.

The day of kids fun runs, part of the Ironman UK weekend, is seeing youngsters aged from 3-15 earn their very own finisher medal under the Ironman gantry whilst having lots of fun.

The town is packed with residents, parents and many other spectators who are all out to see the kids run past and so many of them have said how proud they are.

Inez Price has three of her children taking part in today's event and she said she couldn't be prouder of her daughter Heidi who was born with club foot.

The Bolton News: Heidi and her two brothers Lucas and StefanHeidi and her two brothers Lucas and Stefan

She said: "I'm more excited this year because it's the first time the little one is doing it and he's watched the other two do it on previous years and he's wanted to join in but not been old enough.

"So yes it's a big day for us.

"My daughter Heidi, she's 15, she was born with club foot so that's where the foot is turned inwards and she underwent four years of treatment when she was a baby so on her right side she's only got half a muscle in her calf.

"I feel amazed she is running it, everytime she doesn't let anything stop her."

Mayor of Bolton, Cllr Akhtar Zaman, said a speech at the start of the event welcoming the excited children.

He said: "I hope you're as excited as we are for our kids.

"Today is very special because you are taking part in the biggest Ironkids event ever held in the world.

"There are more than 4,000 of you running today, it's going to be great fun.

"Some people who started out as Ironkids like you are today have gone on to compete in the full Ironman event.

The Bolton News: The Mayor of Bolton welcomes everyone to the town with a special speechThe Mayor of Bolton welcomes everyone to the town with a special speech

"So maybe after today you will be one of those people who's inspired to take on the amazing Ironman challenge one day.

"Bolton's Ironman weekend is the largest in England and we think that it is the best.

"So mums, dads, sisters, brothers, grandmas and grandads and everyone else who is here to cheer them on, your support really makes a difference and helps create a fabulous event.

"I hope you all have a fantastic run and a fabulous day."

Youngsters across today are taking part in races, having their faces painted, and taking part in activities such as  a climbing wall, caving bus, football cage, fairground games, and arts and crafts over the course of the day.

Races are setting off in waves with year eleven starting first at 9am with nurserys and the Rotary finishing at 4pm.

This year the Rotary turned 100 and as part of their celebrations they funded 100 children with special educational needs to take part in the event.

The Bolton News: Christopher Hill and Ironkids taking part in todays raceChristopher Hill and Ironkids taking part in todays race

Christopher Hill, President of Bolton Lever Rotary said: "It's great to see so many young people in Bolton taking on such a prestigious race and challenging themselves.

"Ironkids is a fun, well organised event, that for many will be the gateway to get them interested in running and improving their fitness.

"Rotary provides around 100 volunteers at Ironkids each year, and as president of Bolton Lever Rotary Club I believe it's a great opportunity to support the whole community of Bolton and beyond.

"This year celebrates 100 years of Rotary in Bolton and we have funded 100 Ironkids places for children with special educational needs and disadvantaged areas, each one taking part to represent one year that we have supported the Bolton community.

"We look forward to supporting the Bolton community for the next 100 years."