A devoted husband from Brackley has won the 100-mile Grim Reaper Ultra Marathon to support a campaign close to his heart.
Phil Marshall took part in the event in the grounds of Grimsthorpe Castle last Friday to raise awareness for organ donation.
His wife Sarah was diagnosed with an extremely rare and serious condition called Idiopathic Pulmonary Hypertension last year.
Since then, the couple have launched a campaign entitled I Give You My Heart and Mr Marshall has also completed the Silverstone Half Marathon and Milton Keyenes Marathon this year.
The 31-year-old, who works as a bank manager in Barclays’ branch in High Street, Banbury, said: “Sarah’s illness has had a massive impact on our lives. We wanted to make something positive out of the situation and organ donation is such an important cause. It is a chance for any of us to save the lives of eight people but it only happens if we have told our loved ones that we want to donate our organs when we die.”
“The race was tough going out there in the heat. I tried to focus on keeping hydrated and not exhausting myself in the hottest part of the afternoon.”
The Grim Reaper Ultra Marathon is a mixture of limestone trail, tarmac and field trails and runners complete ten laps of a ten-mile course.
Mr Marshall has already planned to take part in another marathon in Nottingham next month, with friends of the couple completing the Edinburgh Marathon, Dunwich Dynamo Bike Ride and the Great South Run.
Before the diagnosis the couple had been keen walkers and travellers and even spent a year travelling around Asia and the Pacific. Now, just walking a few hundred metres is a challenge for Sarah.
Mrs Marshall, 33, a former primary school teacher, said: “When I was first diagnosed it was a huge shock.
“However it has taught me to be positive and appreciative of my life. We’re just getting on with enjoying our lives and making the most of everything.
“We hadn’t thought much about organ donation before, and even though I’m not on the transplant list, I know quite a few people with pulmonary hypertension who are, or who have had a transplant. The operation has given them a second chance at life.” For details visit igiveyoumyheart.org or www. facebook.com/igiveyou myheart.org