IRONKIDS kicked off Ironman weekend in spectacular style as more than 2,200 youngsters took part in the their own sporting challenge.

Children aged three to 14 took part in the world’s largest Ironkids event on Saturday.

They were cheered on by three time Ironman World Champion Craig “Crowie” Alexander.

He said: “It is amazing to see so many kids taking part. Having competed in triathlons all over the world, it is fantastic that Bolton attracts such a huge number of Ironkids.

"Having got three kids myself, it means so much to me to see kids lead a healthy lifestyle and I know my children are a huge inspiration to my racing as I’m sure for many of the athletes here, so I really enjoy giving something back to the sport by hopefully inspiring them too.”

Victoria was transformed into a running track. They were cheered on my hundreds of proud parents, siblings and friends.

Siblings Brandon, aged 13, and Megan Booth, aged nine, from Deane, were cheered on by their father, Neil, who took part in Ironman the next day.

Megan said: “It was good to do the run, and I think it is good that my dad is doing Ironman, it is very hard but we will be supporting him.”

Mr Booth, aged 36, said: “This is my first Ironman and I have been training 20 hours a week.”

Tyler Cooke, aged nine, from Bolton, said: “It was easier to run in the rain because it cooled you down, so it wasn’t hard.”

Friends Kira Speakman and Isabelle Oakley, both from Heaton, stayed with each other during their race.

Kira, aged nine, said: “We were a little tired after we finished it.”

Isabelle, aged 10, said: “It is the first time we have done it, and we thought if we did it might encourage more people to do.”

The event was a hit with parents too.

Jemma Westby, aged 30, from Atherton, was cheering on her children, nieces and nephews.

She said: “It is an absolutely fantastic event, it gets all children involved in sport, and it is about healthy living.”

Her niece Lauren Pykett, from Euxton, added: “It is the first time I have taken part in Ironkids and I really enjoyed it.”

For twin brothers Mason and Logan Ernill, aged nine from Bolton, the Ironkids event was almost a walk in the park, with the two having taken part in a triathlon event in Lancaster a few weeks earlier.

But they certainly took the race seriously, as they competed against each other, with Mason winning.

Logan said: “I won last year, and this year Mason won.”

Mason added: “We are a bit tired after the event, but we had trained for it because of the triathlon.”

Their dad Mike, aged 45, has competed in Ironman for the last two years, and is taking a break this year.

Logan said: “I think it is epic my dad had competed in Ironman.”

Mr Ernill added: “Ironman is a great day, it is a celebration of all the training you have put in for it.”

Malaika Dean celebrated her 12th birthday by taking part in the event.

Her father, Cllr Mudasir Dean, said: “Ironkids is a fun and challenging event for youngsters who really feel they have achieved something special.”

Kevin Stewart, managing director of Ironman UK and Ireland, added: “Ironkids is a fantastic start to the weekend's racing and it's great to see so many children and their families here supporting the event.

“Ironkids has grown to be a massive event in its own right and we couldn’t achieve this without the on going support of Bolton Council."

For the full gallery of Ironkids pictures go here.