It's pies the limit for Jack and Run Wigan Festival
Runners can look forward to devouring a fitting reward when they finish the Run Wigan Festival.
For organisers of the second annual event have announced that finishers will be given that famous Wigan dish - a pie - after crossing the finish line.
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Race director Matt Johnson, from Wigan-based charity Joining Jack, said: “We have been doing the Wigan 10k for six years and this is our second Run Wigan Festival, but we have never offered a free pie before.
“It has been suggested by runners in the past and we felt the time was right.”
The pies will be available for runners completing either the half marathon or 5k races at the festival, which takes place on Sunday, March 18 in Wigan town centre.
The race numbers worn by runners will feature a token, which they can remove afterwards and take to Pound Bakery to collect their pie on the day.
There will mostly be meat and potato pies, but Mediterranean pastries and vegetable curry pasties will also be available.
Matt said: “Hopefully it will warm up everybody and fill their hunger once they have done a run.”
The idea of providing pies was decided by Matt, his 10-year-old nephew Jack Johnson and Jack’s dad Andy Johnson, a former Warriors player who set up the Joining Jack charity to fund research into Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
Matt said: “Jack thought it was a great idea. He participated last year and knows how hard the course is and wanted to do something to thank everybody.
“We’re hoping this little addition will be good. We will be giving away more than 3,000 pies.”
The pie news was revealed as organisers collected the lead car for the half marathon from race sponsor HW Moon.
It will be used over the coming weeks to promote the event, before leading the way for runners on race day.
It is now less than four weeks until the running festival returns to Wigan town centre.
More than 4,000 people took part last year and hundreds have already signed up for this year’s half marathon, 5k and family mile.
Organisers are expecting a surge in race entries in the coming weeks.
Matt said: “We are on target for very similar numbers to last year.
“I think the 5k is perhaps ahead of schedule at the moment. There are a lot of schools showing interest in promoting the family mile to children as well.
“We are expecting good numbers over the next few weeks from everyone who has been training for the half marathon.”
The races will be started by Jack and former Warriors star Martin Offiah has again produced a music mix to be played at the start line.
The half marathon route takes runners past some of Wigan’s best known places, including Wigan Pier, DW Stadium and Haigh Hall, while the 5k goes through Mesnes Park.
As well as the pies, finishers will receive a medal and bottle of water, with a T-shirt and goody bag also given to half marathon runners.
The medal for the half marathon features Haigh Hall, which runners pass around 10 miles into the course, while the pavilion at Mesnes Park appears on the 5k medal.
Some participants will be raising money for Joining Jack or other charities close to their hearts, while others may prefer to run for the challenge or to aim for a certain finishing time.
Matt encouraged those still considering taking part to sign up.
He said: “All registration money goes to Joining Jack so we can make a big difference. There is fantastic research going on now.
“You are challenging yourself for an event that’s got great feedback from runners who have done it previously.
“It’s a great day for all the family. There is something for everyone, whether it’s the half marathon, 5k or family mile.
“If you can’t take part, come along and cheer everyone on.”
After finishing the race, runners can enjoy a European market and live music in the town centre - as well as their free pie, of course.
The half marathon starts at 9.30am, followed by the 5k at 10.15am and family mile at 1pm.
Registration for the half marathon and 5k races is available online only, with no entries on the day, and closes at midnight on Thursday, March 15.
Entry for the 5k costs Â£14.50 for adults and Â£12.50 for children aged 11 to 16.
For the half marathon, it costs Â£24 for attached runners and Â£26 for unattached runners.
The family mile costs Â£4 for children and their parents or guardians can run with them for free.
There will be registration on the day for the family mile.
To find out more about the races or to sign up, go to the Run Wigan Festival website