A BUS driver has stormed into the final stretch of a 'heroic' mission to run 50 marathons in a year.

Mark Temple woke up on his 49th birthday with his mind set on the challenge, vowing to complete 50 marathon-length runs in time for his 50th birthday in May.

The Cowley father-of-three is taking on the feat to fundraise for Sobell House Hospice, which cared for his dad Patrick Temple in 2012 before he died of cancer.

Oxford Bus Company employee Mr Temple, who drives the Oxford Brookes service, said: "It's been really difficult, more than I could have ever imagined.

"The bus company has been really supportive - other drivers always toot and shout encouragement out the window when they see me, it really spurs me on."

The Barns Road resident had only conquered one marathon before deciding to cram 50 into 12 months, running an average of one marathon per week.

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Rather than take part in pre-organised marathons he runs a 26.2 mile course of his own accord, following the bus company's routes around the city.

He hopes to run his final marathon on his birthday on May 16, finishing at the hospice.

Phil Southall, managing director of Oxford Bus Company, said: "This is a phenomenal effort by Mark, and all of his colleagues are proud of him.

"Oxford Bus Company is part of the Sobell 40 Club and has made a commitment to raise a minimum of £10,000 for the charity over four years, so it’s a good-cause that’s close to our hearts. Mark is the talk of the depot and a genuine inspiration to us all."

The company has donated £1,000 towards Mr Temple's total, while some of his colleagues have been setting aside £1 in a pot for him per marathon.

The bus driver runs on his days off, no matter the weather - it was -6 degrees Celsius when he set off for marathon 42 last week, while in summer he set off at 2.30am to avoid the heatwave.

Bert Corbyn-Smith, community fundraiser at Sobell House, said: "Sobell House is so fortunate to have supporters and fundraisers that are willing to go the extra mile to help us raise the funds we need to operate.

"It makes a real difference to our ability to continue providing care for the people of Oxfordshire now and in the future.

"On behalf of everyone at the hospice, I’d like to thank Mark for choosing to take on this heroic challenge, and wish him the very best of luck."

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Mr Temple wrote on his online fundraising page: "[My father] was a big strong man, and I had never seen him scared before.

"The staff at Sobell House showed so much compassion, respect and maintained his dignity.

"Towards the end we were sat in his room and I looked at him, and he was grinning. I asked him what he was grinning at and he said, 'I’m not grinning, I’m enjoying.' That was one of the last things he said to me."

He also said the hospice did an 'amazing job' in caring for his wife's grandmother in January 2012, adding: "My wife found it a great comfort that her beloved Nan passed away peacefully with dignity."