IRONMAN UK Race Director Sam Brawn talks Bolton changes for 2018

Want more details on the changes to IRONMAN UK, Bolton from 2018? We spoke Race Director, Sam Brawn, to find out more about what is planned

Chief Correspondent
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More details on the event changes to IRONMAN UK Bolton

Race Director, Sam Brawn, talks to Tri247 about the event updates

With the tenth anniversary year of the race in Bolton coming up on Sunday 15th July next year, we spoke to IRONMAN UK Race Director, Sam Brawn, to get more insight and details on the changes announced earlier today (HERE).

Find out more here about the new Race HQ, Athletes Village, Pasta Party plans, location of T2, run course changes, finish line and much more.

(You can still enter the 2018 edition HERE).

TRI247: Firstly, why the changes? Was it caused by Little Mix?!
SAM: No – we are always looking at ways of making improvements to all of our races, and having three race locations spread over a wide area always made Bolton a bit more tricky for us and the athletes. We have only just been told that Little Mix are performing the evening before the race at the Macron Stadium. I am hoping they will come along on the Sunday to watch.

TRI247: One of the major changes is the movement of Race HQ to the city centre. Can you run us through what that will look like and what will be happening there?
SAM: Well Race HQ will be at the Albert Halls Bolton, which is all in Victoria Square. The race registration and Expo will be in here along with the race briefings. This brings the heart of the race into the centre of Bolton.

TRI247: Will the pasta party be here?
SAM: As we are in the centre of town we are looking to try what we have successfully done at Ironman Wales and not have a pasta party, but instead invite local business to get involved and athletes will have a voucher to spend on a carbo-loading dinner locally.

TRI247: The big bonus of the Macron Stadium was it was basically a big car park – what is the parking like in the city centre?
SAM: We are very lucky in that Bolton County Council have arranged for free parking over the race weekend (NOTE: Not Thursday/Friday). There is plenty of parking in the town centre and all within a 3-5 minute walk from the venues.

TRI247: And Transition 2?
SAM: That will be in Queens Park. That is one of the major changes to the 2018 race in that we have been lucky to negotiate the use of Queens Park, which is right next to the town centre. From the finish line to T2 is about 800 m (approx. 10min walk).

IRONMAN UK Bolton - Queens Park

TRI247: Are you still doing any shuttle buses?
SAM: Yes, on race day morning we will be running shuttle buses for athletes and spectators from Bolton town centre to the swim start at Pennington Flash. The shuttle buses will also bring spectators back to the town centre so they can watch the last bit of the bike and then the run.

TRI247: In regards to the bike course, when athletes get to the Macron Stadium they will now carry on past and into town towards the new T2. How much further is it from the Stadium and any significant elevation that athletes should be aware of?
SAM: It is about four miles from the Macron stadium. Where athletes would normally turn right onto Napier Drive into the stadium, they will now continue on down Chorley New Road and then make a right turn into Park Road, a left onto Spa Road and then into T2. There is only a slight increase in overall elevation and not one that will make much difference to bike times.

TRI247: The bike section along Chorley New Road does follow alongside some of the run course?
SAM: Yes, we think this will make the end of the bike a lot more spectator friendly. The bike comes past The Retreat Bar and Grill, Bolton School and the Lion of Vienna pub – all locations that have a great atmosphere on race day and plenty of entertainment. Spectators will now be able to watch athletes finish on the bike and walk down to Queens Park to see them on the run. Athletes finishing on the bike will see some of the faster athletes collecting their run lap bands so “lap band envy” might start a bit earlier.

TRI247: So, what does T2 look like?
SAM: When you come into T2 and have dismounted your bike (before the dismount line…), athletes will then have a short run on grass to your transition rack. The layout will be similar to the layout of T1 at Pennington Flash.

IRONMAN UK Bolton 2018 - T2 Queen's Park (Sam Brawn Race Director)

TRI247: Will T2 have its own commentary or will it be the finish line commentary?
SAM: T2 will have separate commentary to the finish line. We have got lots of space and we really want to create something special with the park as it’s not only the home of T2, it will become a feature of the run course. What we have lined up in the park will make it worthwhile.

TRI247: So talking run course, there have been a number of changes including the removal of the run along the canal and more significantly, the removal of long hill on Chorley Street?
SAM: Yes the movement of T2 has taken out the run along the canal, which was always a fairly quiet section of the run with very few supporters. Adding in the section in the park has also allowed us to remove the Chorley Street hill; although runners will still have elevation to deal with, it is now more evenly distributed.

IRONMAN UK Bolton 2018

TRI247: You mentioned that T2 is on grass; is the run in Queens Park on grass?
SAM: No, the run in the park is all on tarmac and the pathways are really spacious. Runners will be running one way in the park and there is plenty to see and run through. We are looking to use the Rose Garden, there is a mini amphitheatre and the run goes around some of the lakes in the park. It should make for a nice change.

IRONMAN UK Bolton run course 2018

TRI247: Once out of T2 the runners head into the town centre and run past the finish line?
SAM: Yes, another big change is putting the finish line back out in front of the Town Hall and we have been able to route the run laps so they actually run alongside the finish line. In previous years on the laps runners got a glimpse of the finish line and red carpet, well this year they are going to get a perfect view of it as they run past. If you are lucky to be at that point when the elites are finishing, you are going to have the best seats in the house (well standing seats in the house…).

IRONMAN UK Bolton 2018

TRI247: Where will the feed stations be on the run?
SAM: We are still working through the final locations but with the run being laps we are looking to have a feed station every 1.5/2miles. The addition of the park is allowing us to really up the entertainment on the run section and we want to have what we call a spectator hotspot every mile and half.

IRONMAN UK Bolton 2018 run course

TRI247: Now the finish is outside the Town Hall, what happens to the Athletes Village?
SAM: After finishing, athletes will be able to head into the Athletes Village, which will be in Victoria Square and Newport Street. We are making a few changes to the Athletes Village with the idea of making it a bit more of a festival theme so instead of one set of food, we are looking to have multiple food vendors catering to lots of different tastes. Hopefully, a culinary experience to finish your day off.

TRI247: What about the swim bags from T1, will they go to the Athletes Village?
SAM: No, they will go to T2. Having T2 just near the finish will make it much easier for everyone and also now no excuses to not collect your bike after the race!


For more information on IRONMAN UK, visit:

John Levison
Written by
John Levison
TRI247's Chief Correspondent, John has been involved in triathlon for well over 30 years, 15 of those writing on these pages, whilst he can also be found commentating for events across the UK.


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