Tributes to popular Wigan sportsman will be paid at bike ride

Jay Markland, left, taking part in the 2018 Wigan Bike Ride
Jay Markland, left, taking part in the 2018 Wigan Bike Ride

A keen sportsman who died suddenly at the age of 46 will be remembered at this Sunday’s Wigan Bike Ride.

Friends and clubmates will gather at the start line at Mesnes Park to pay tribute to father-of-two Jay Markland.

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He took part in last year’s 50-mile ride and was training for the Ironman UK triathlon before he died in February.

His teammates will stand at the start line of the bike ride to honour their friend.

It is hoped his widow Wendy and their twin daughters Katie and Sophie will be there to see the tribute.

Head coach Paul Sutton described Wigan Athletic fan Jay as “an extremely popular member of the club, quick witted and with a cheeky smile”.

He said: “On the morning of February 18 the club received the devastating news that Jay had passed away suddenly but peacefully during the previous night.

“The outpouring of grief not just from within the club, but from his friends, family and colleagues spoke volumes about what a highly thought of person Jay was and over 30 Invictus Tri members rode their bikes behind his hearse to the church for his funeral, so we could ride with him one last time.

“The Wigan Bike Ride 2019 will again see a big turnout from Invictus Triathlon Club as we remember an incredibly popular and sadly missed club member.”

The memorial was organised after a photograph of Jay at last year’s event was posted on Wigan Bike Ride’s Facebook page.

Melanie Whitehead, from Joining Jack, said: “We wanted to do something special for one of our riders. Invictus Triathlon Club has been really supportive of the bike ride and we wanted to pay our own tribute to Jay.”

Registration for the third annual event closes at midnight on Thursday, with more than 350 entries so far for the 50-mile ride and nearly 100 for the five-mile family ride.

Among the cyclists will be a team of rugby league legends riding for Joining Jack.

The main ride sets off at 9.30am and follows a circular route through Lancashire, including Parbold Hill after it proved to be a popular change to the course last year.

The family ride, which starts at 9.45am, will see both adults and children cycle to the DW Stadium and back. To find out more and sign up, go to www.wiganbikeride.co.uk.