AN INSPIRATIONAL bus driver has left his colleagues 'in awe' after running 50 marathons in the space of a year.

Mark Temple has completed the gruelling endurance challenge to raise thousands of pounds for Oxford's Sobell House Hospice, conquering 50 marathon-length runs to coincide with his 50th birthday.

The Oxford Bus Company employee had only completed one marathon before embarking on the feat on his 49th birthday last year, but ended his final 26.2-mile run last month, finishing at the Headington hospice.

Father-of-three Mr Temple is set to raise at least £3,000 for Sobell, which looked after his late father Patrick Temple in 2012 before he died of cancer.

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Mr Temple, who lives in Cowley, said: "The final run was very emotional and the last two or three miles were very difficult.

"It was absolutely amazing to see how many people turned out at the finish. My brother had organised for people to be wearing [special] t-shirts, which I didn’t know about, and there were lots of people from the bus company there."

Mr Temple, who drives the Oxford Brookes bus service, completed the final marathon alongside fellow Oxford Bus Company driver Arif Khan, and former Henley Hawks rugby player Andy Dalgleish, who stepped up after reading about Mr Temple’s challenge.

Oxford Bus Company laid on a bus on the day especially for Mr Temple's family and friends, so they could offer him encouragement as he ran along his final route.

He said his employer had been 'absolutely great' in supporting his feat.

The company's managing director Phil Southall said: "Mark’s determination and passion for this incredible challenge has been an inspiration.

"We are in awe of what he’s achieved and the money he has raised for a cause close to his heart, and proud of the support he’s received from his colleagues."

Oxford Bus Company is part of the Sobell 40 Club, in which businesses commit to raising a minimum of £10,000 for the hospice over four years.

The final run took Mr Temple three hours and 54 minutes, and his fastest time during the year was three hours and 27 minutes.

Mr Temple began most of his marathons at about 4.30am in the morning, saying he preferred the early starts as 'you get to see Oxford as it’s waking up.'

He added: "It’s been beautiful to see the city centre before it gets busy. I have seen a lot of drunk people stumbling home, but also lots of wildlife like deer, foxes and badgers.

"I generally ran along bus routes, and the drivers would give me a wave and shout out encouragement when they saw me.

"My favourite route was from Cowley to Woodstock, which covered quite a few bus routes and is 13.2 miles one way."

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He said marathons 13 through 26 were the toughest as they fell during last year's heatwave.

Mr Temple added: "When I was over half way it was so much better. It still didn’t dawn on me that I was going to complete it until after marathon 40.

"I spent weeks thinking I would never finish it."

Sobell House community fundraiser Bert Corbyn-Smith said his team 'couldn't believe it' when Mr Temple told them what he was planning.

He said: "Nearly a year later, that sense of awe hasn’t gone away – completing 50 marathons in a year is such an astonishing feat.

"He’s on track to raise thousands of pounds to support our work and enable us to continue providing specialist end-of-life care to the people of Oxfordshire."

Mr Temple said he had been 'lucky' to avoid injuries or illness but said the challenge had got progressively harder, and he downgraded from two marathons per week at the start to one a week.

Rather than take a well-earned rest, Mr Temple launched straight into training for the Blenheim Triathlon, which took place the week before last.