The countdown is on to Run Wigan Festival

All eyes are on the skies as final preparations are made for the third annual Run Wigan Festival.

Thursday, 14th March 2019, 1:21 pm
Updated Friday, 15th March 2019, 9:18 am
Alex Johnson, from organising charity Joining Jack, with the lead car for Run Wigan Festival, at HW Moon Official Toyota Centre

Organisers are keeping their fingers crossed that temperatures will not plummet ahead of Sunday’s event, after snow and ice led to the cancellation of last year’s half marathon.

Despite last weekend being distinctly wintry, it is hoped that conditions will be better for runners, walkers, supporters and volunteers this time.

Entries have been pouring in for the four races - with extra places released for the inaugural 10-miler selling out on Friday - and more than 3,000 people are expected to take part in total.

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Alex Johnson, from organising charity Joining Jack, with the lead car for Run Wigan Festival, at HW Moon Official Toyota Centre

There is still time to get involved, as registration for the half marathon, 5k and family mile remains open online until midnight on Thursday. Entries for the family mile will also be available on the day.

Race organiser Matt Johnson, from charity Joining Jack, said: “I can understand people being a bit hesitant based on last year and possibly leaving it to the last minute, but the long-term weather forecast right now is looking favourable, with no extreme weather conditions coming in.

“Hopefully people can have confidence to register and take part in what is not only a great event for Joining Jack, but for Wigan itself. We have great encouragement on the course, both from supporters and the music.

“It’s all building nicely. I would encourage everybody to get involved, whether it’s to support the runners or take part in the event. Come along and be part of a great day.”

Alex Johnson, from organising charity Joining Jack, with the lead car for Run Wigan Festival, with Dorothy Moon and Steve Mather of HW Moon Official Toyota Centre

Participants will gather in Wigan town centre on Sunday morning ready for the half marathon and 10-miler to start at 9.30am, followed by the 5k race at 10.15am and the family mile at 1pm.

The official race starter is 11-year-old Jack Johnson, whose parents Andy and Alex Johnson founded Joining Jack to fund research into Duchenne muscular dystrophy after he was diagnosed with the condition. They are both planning to take part in the 10-mile race.

Thousands of people of all abilities will cross the start line and run or walk past some of Wigan’s landmarks, including the DW Stadium, Wigan Pier, Haigh Hall and Mesnes Park.

Musician Andy Mack and Pemberton Old Wigan DW Band will perform on the course to spur on the half marathon runners.

Medals will be presented to everyone when they cross the finish line in Wigan town centre, with a T-shirt also presented to half marathon runners.

People completing the half marathon, 10-mile and 5k races will also be able to claim a free pie.

Afterwards, runners and spectators will be able to enjoy live music from alternative band Della Noirs, trio Silverstone, singer-songwriter Rik Jones and 13-year-old Gracie O’Brien.

There will also be a European food market on Market Place, with work to revamp the area expected to be completed in time for the event.

To sign up for the races or find out more, go to Race packs for anyone entering in coming days can be collected in Wigan town centre on Sunday morning.