Bolton Marathon helps thousands of schoolchildren get moving

Schoolchildren in Bolton will be the first people to take part in the town’s resurrected marathon, 33 years after it was last run.

Sixty primary schools and one special school across the borough have pledged to get active with the help of Bolton Marathon organisers in an exciting challenge.

From Monday February 24, the youngsters are being challenged to take part in 15 minutes of activity a day.

This will be followed by lessons about each stage of the route so pupils can themselves ‘run the marathon’.

The race returns on Sunday May 17 and its Director Richard Smith said he was always keen to use the opportunity to help to encourage young people to become more active.

He said: “We want to give back to the community and it made sense for us to start with schools.

“It is great that so many children will be active and learn about the Bolton Marathon at the same time.”

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

Bolton Marathon Primary School Challenge packs have been sent to schools with a map of the different stages,

Richard said: “We are asking them to do 15 minutes of activity every day. It could be anything – throwing beanbags for little ones, or for the older ones actually running around a football field. In total, 18,500 children have signed up to take part which is brilliant.

“We would eventually like all 30,000 children in Bolton to be more active in the future so we still have a way to go, but this is a great start.”

Leader of Bolton Council, Cllr David Greenhalgh, added: “The Bolton Marathon has such a proud place in this town’s past and to see organisers reinventing the event with innovative ideas, reaching out to all ages, is fantastic.

“As a council we are committed to helping all young people to get the best possible start in life.

“This initiative will encourage thousands of young people to take part in sporting activity every day and, who knows, could inspire marathon runners of the future.”

Children from Bolton St Catherine’s Academy are some of the youngsters who have signed up to the challenge.

With the encouragement of Deputy Headteacher Christopher Hill, the Year Six pupils are running a mile, three times a week in their lunch breaks in a loop around their school.

Three keen youngsters, Ernesson Nghogeh, Brooklyn Smith and Ruby Walker, all aged 10, said they were enjoying taking part, despite the cold weather.

Ernesson, who also enjoys football, said: “You need to be active to keep fit and healthy, it is important.”

Christopher, a keen runner who has competed in 35 Tough Mudder events and will also be running in the Bolton Marathon – his first marathon – said: “Physical exercise is so important. It teaches young people about determination, teamwork and resilience, all crucial qualities.

“The biggest benefit of exercise is its positive impact on mental health. The children were buzzing after their run, with big smiles. It makes a huge difference in the classroom.”

He added: “I am delighted Bolton Marathon is coming back and as a Bolton man it’s great that my first one will be in my home town.”

The youngsters can also record all their daily activity on an app, which will enable Bolton Council to gather vital information about how active the borough’s schoolchildren are.

Bolton Marathon will also be a pioneer in its bid to become the most environmentally friendly event of its kind in the world.

Organisers are exploring every option to make it the first major marathon on the planet to virtually eradicate single use plastic.

Single-use plastic is a wide-ranging term which includes all products made wholly or partially of plastic, which are typically intended to be used just once and/or for a short period of time before being disposed of.

Richard added: “We are focusing on removing this as much as humanly possible from the event through a collaboration with businesses and organisations in the industry to set a precedent for future events.

“There has been a lot of concern across the world about the amount of single use plastic used in these events and just discarded once the race has finished, leaving a mess for either the organisers or local people/authorities to clean up.

“Bolton Marathon will change this. We have set out a detailed declaration of intent which outlines all our plans to organise the most environmentally-friendly major marathon in the world.

“No other major marathon in the world has ever gone anywhere near as far as us in reducing single use plastic and it is a mission we are incredibly passionate about.”

The Bolton Marathon will be an inspirational, not-for-profit, event that the people of Bolton will be proud of, with proceeds donated to the Bolton Marathon Community Trust Fund.

Bolton Hospice is the event’s preferred charity and organisers are aiming to get a minimum of 100 runners to raise money for the organisation.

The route will provide a real challenge and include the infamous 2.1-mile Plodder Lane Climb which was the bane of those taking part.

The one-lap circuit takes in much of the borough, starting and finishing in Queens Park in Bolton town centre and runs in a clockwise loop around Bolton, including communities such as Smithills, Sharples, Bromley Cross, Harwood, Darcy Lever, Little Lever and Farnworth.

Richard said: “It will be a true test of running ability. If you only complete one marathon in your life and it’s the Bolton Marathon you can give yourself a huge pat on the back.”

The entry fee for everyone is £55 and there is a limit of 4,000 runners. To enter, volunteer or sponsor, visit www.boltonmarathon.com.

There will also be a 10km race, which is £25 per runner entry fee, with a limit of 1,500 participants. There will also a Family Fun Run, with details of how to enter coming soon.