THE MAN trying to resurrect one of the town's biggest sporting events has ambitious plans for the future.

Richard Smith this week announced a date for the return of the Bolton Marathon - an event which has not been held in the borough since 1987.

The 35-year-old moved to the town from Warwickshire in 2007 and has organised his own running club at Jumbles Country Park for the past five years.

But, he says he was inspired by people's memories of the previous Bolton Marathon, which attracted crowds of thousands.

“I’m not born and brought up in Bolton so I didn’t know the original marathon, I had no experience of it personally but I knew of it and I knew that it was really successful and really popular," Mr Smith explained.

"It’s iconic really and if you speak to anyone from Bolton they will immediately tell you how amazing it was when they were on Plodder Lane at nine years old with their grandma or grandad.

“That’s the story, everyone seems to have that same story and I can understand it because I’ve seen the pictures and it’s absolutely heaving with people.”

After moving to Bolton, Mr Smith worked for a fitness company and an air conditioning firm, but has since left his job to focus fully on the marathon through newly created venture Bolton Marathon Ltd.

He first approached Bolton Council about the event in October 2017 and has been planning it ever since, with a route set to be revealed in the coming weeks.

He said: "We've set out to make a route that is as good as it can possibly be.

"We're really proud of the route, we think it's all encompassing and involves many different communities across Bolton so that many communities can get involved in it however the like.

"They can support, volunteer or take part and you can train on the route because it's on most people's doorsteps."

He added: "We think it's a real good test for any runner because of the hills but if you're choosing to do one marathon in your lifetime then this is going to be a really memorable marathon."

Mr Smith is a veteran athlete, having taken part in two Bolton Ironman races, as well as the Chester Marathon and the London Marathon.

This Is Lancashire:

In fact, as if completing 26 miles on foot were not difficult enough, he preceded his race in the capital by running from Chorley to London - a six-day long, 250-mile slog to raise money for the Royal British Legion.

He has carried this level of ambition into his planning for the upcoming event, even making the bold claim that he wants the Bolton Marathon to compete with its London and Manchester counterparts as the best road marathon in the UK.

However, there are other things setting the race apart, with organisers hoping it can be the first marathon in the world to be completely free of single-use plastic products.

“We think it’s possible and we think we can change the way people run," Mr Smith added.

“When they’re running it’s a really environmentally friendly sport and you produce no waste whatsoever. You go for a run and there’s no rubbish, there’s no carbon dioxide you just run and you finish your run.

"Yet, when people enter an event there’s alway this mountain of waste. It’s plastic generally from water bottles and carrier bags.

"We don’t want any of that so we’re trying to change the way events are run in that way so we don’t have that manufacturing from manufacturings sake.

"People want value and I get that, they're paying to enter something and they've got years and years of expectation of what they'll get from an event. But we've got an opportunity, it's our first one so we've got a chance to set our stall out early and make it different."

It is hoped that the marathon will attract up to 4,000 racers and around 400 volunteers are needed to help put the event on.

But, Mr Smith is optimistic that the race will be embraced by people from the borough.

He said: "We know Boltonians are really proud of their town and they'll get out and support their town and show it off, we see that with Ironman every year."

The Bolton Marathon will take place on Sunday, May 17, 2020, along with a 10km race and a family fun run.

To get involved as a volunteer, racer or sponsor sign up at www.boltonmarathon.com.