BRITAIN'S toughest endurance competition Ironman UK is coming to Darwen and Rossendale for the first time.

Both will feature as part of the gruelling 112-mile cycle course. at he heart of the event.

Previously the competition - which includes a 2.4-mile swim and 26.2 mile marathon - has taken place previously in Wigan and Chorley ending in Bolton town centre.

Now a new route has been chosen taking in Bury, Ramsbottom, the infamously arduous Rake Climb, Helmshore and then through Darwen and across the West Pennine Moors before descending Sheephouse Lane via Belmont and into Bolton for the marathon.

This year's event, expected to attract an international field of competitors, will take place on Sunday, July 14. The swimming section will take place at Pennington Flash near Leigh.

Cllr Mohammed Khan, leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “We’re really pleased to be welcoming Ironman UK to Darwen.

" We’ve worked with Bolton Council and Ironman to help make this happen and map out the new route for 2019 with a view to making it the best ever.

“There will be some road closures on the day to allow the race to happen safely and we hope that people will embrace the event and come down and support the athletes. Ironman will be working closely with residents.

“The event will really help to put Darwen on the map, it will be great for tourism, attracting competitors and spectators from all over the world. It will provide a real boost for our local businesses that will benefit greatly from the volume of people coming to town for this highly regarded event.”

Sam Brawn, Ironman UK race director, said: “After ten fantastic years we continue to push ourselves to find new ways of improving the race experience for our athletes. We are confident that the new course will provide an intriguing challenge offering a new variation on an iconic event.

“We are also particularly excited to bring the race to new communities and spectators."

He added: “We would like to thank the new council authorities for collaborating with us to make the new course a great experience for our athletes and for their enthusiasm in bringing the event into their communities.”