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From operating table to ultra-marathon in months

A father and daughter duo from Botley have taken on a running challenge to raise hundreds of pounds for Wessex Heartbeat.

The feat is even more impressive for dad Martin Morrall, who, just over eight months ago, was in hospital having open heart surgery.

Martin, 60, took on the Race to the King ultra-marathon with daughter Zoe (29) in June, raising more than £250 in the process.

The event is a 52.4-mile double marathon along the South Downs Way to Winchester Cathedral.

It was through running that Martin discovered there was a problem with his heart. An active 60 year old, he’d been out on a run when he thought he had cramp in his leg. “It started to get worse and by the time I got home I was pretty breathless. I knew something wasn’t right. It turned out I had a blood clot behind my knee which had travelled up to my lung.”

Doctors sent Martin for a CT scan afterwards and it was then that they happened to discover he had an aortic aneurysm, a swelling of the main blood vessel that runs from the heart down through the chest and stomach.

Martin was admitted to Southampton General Hospital’s cardiac unit a few months later to have open heart surgery to correct the problem. It was a major operation which took significant recovery but less than six months later Martin was up and running the ABP Southampton Half Marathon to raise money for Wessex Heartbeat.

He said: “I saw how much the charity helped people on the ward and their families when I was in hospital and wanted to do my part to give something back.”

Most of the people Martin met on the ward were making use of Heatbeat House, a home just across the road from the hospital where families of those undergoing heart surgery can stay to be close with their loved ones.

For just £25, families can stay at the serviced accommodation for as long as they need to. It’s a vital lifeline for those who live further away and would otherwise have to commute for hours to see their loved ones or fork out hundreds on hotel accommodation.

“I thought it was such a brilliant idea,” Martin said. “Not just for the logistics side of things but for the emotional support. The people who were going back to Heartbeat House had each other to talk to when they got home. They were surrounded by people going through the same difficult situation and it was such a support.”

Martin and daughter Zoe’s latest challenge of the Race to the King has also raised money for Wessex Heartbeat.

It costs around £80,000 every year to fund Heartbeat House. To add to Martin and Zoe’s fundraising total visit and to find out more about the charity visit

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