WIGAN capped off an incredible year of sporting achievement in style as the town’s inaugural 10k proved a resounding success.
The town centre was packed with people enjoying a carnival atmosphere as they supported more than 2,500 runners who pulled on their trainers for charity.
The race was run in perfect conditions, with athletes greeted by glorious blue skies as they were sent on their way by cycling legend and Warriors fan Bradley Wiggins.
Runners ranging from celebrities and professional sportsmen to 10k novices and hundreds of ordinary Wiganers rubbed shoulders as they followed a course out through Springfield to the DW Stadium and Martland Mill before returning to the finish through Mesnes Park.
There was a home triumph in the men’s event as Swinley athlete Joseph Christopher, running for the University of Cambridge club, led home Wigan Phoenix runner James Hilton. The Phoenix club also completed a clean sweep of the podium in the women’s event, won by Lynn Manir-Jolley.
Behind the elite athletes came a host of runners raising money for charity, with some of the biggest beneficiaries being Joining Jack, which raises awareness of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) and came up with the idea for the event, and Joseph’s Goal, dedicated to improving knowledge of rare brain condition non-ketotic hyperglycaemia (NKH).
Organiser Matt Johnson said: “I don’t think it could have gone any better. The number of runners taking part and spectators cheering us all on just shows what the Wigan community is all about.
“Thank you to everyone who has played a part, it’s just been incredible.
“We wanted to put on a flagship event and we’re already looking forward to next year.”
Among the runners were Wigan and Leigh MPs Lisa Nandy and Andy Burnham and a team of elected representatives from Wigan Council, who also helped to put the event on.
Coun Chris Ready, portfolio holder for housing and leisure, said: “I’m really proud of what Wigan has managed to achieve.
“The race has galvanised everybody and the atmosphere is absolutely superb.
“This event is being talked about all over the North West and once again it’s a Wigan first.”
Massive crowds lined the route at several points, with some spectators in Springfield even setting out deckchairs at the side of the road to watch the streams of athletes pass.
There was a party atmosphere at the start and finish of the race in Market Square, with spectators and runners being entertained with cheerleaders’ displays and performances from several local bands.
Carolynne Poole, of X Factor fame, performed before the 10k started and ran the race as well.
Among the fund-raising runners were dozens of entrants wearing fancy dress.
A Lancashire Wolverines American footballer endured the heat to race in his full gear, while a 118 118 duo had the crowds cheering as they went by. There was also a Spiderman, Wonder Woman, Elvis and even a Postman Pat taking part.