A marathon fanatic from Botley who ran for almost 52 hours straight became so delirious that he asked trees for directions.

Sam Skinner's ankles swelled up beyond recognition following the epic challenge, which saw the 34-year-old run for 200 miles with only nine minutes of rest.

This would be the equivalent of running from the city centres of Southampton and Portsmouth almost 14 times.

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The father-of-one had to settle for second place after he started to lose his mind towards the end of the challenge and got lost.

Daily Echo: Sam said he considered giving up many timesHe said: "I was in the lead for 160 miles but, unfortunately, towards the end of the race I was hit with the 'night monsters'.

"In the running world this is what it is called when delirium starts to over take your body from exhaustion.

"I began to hallucinate and my team tell me that at one point I was even seen asking a tree for directions."

Daily Echo: This is the 200 mile track that Sam ranThis is the 200 mile track that Sam ran (Image: Submitted)Starting off in Surrey, the Centurion Running Winter Downs 200 endurance race saw an elite group of runners including Sam traverse a 200-mile lap of the North and South Downs.

It covered an area as far north as Guildford, as far east as Eastbourne in East Sussex and as far west as Winchester.

The roofer, who has completed a number of 100 mile runs since finishing his first 10K back in 2017, was up for this fresh challenge.

Daily Echo: Sam ran for an incredible 52 hoursHe said: "This race is new to Centurions this year and as I'm always on the hunt for a new challenge I really wanted to get involved.

"To do a race like this you would need about two years of marathon running training - it is no easy feat."

In 2022, Sam took on the Dragon's Back Race - a six day race from the north to the south of Wales - setting him in good stead for the 200 which began on December 13.

But it was still a fiendish run.

Daily Echo: He finished second in the race after being in first for 160 milesSam said: "The crew are at stop points every 11 miles and that's the only chance you have to rest or get some food.

"Out of 52 hours, I only stopped for a total of nine minutes. 

"We have to run through swamps and bogs - at one point I was chest deep in water."

With no time to rest, Sam had to quickly grab snacks and drinks at the stop points - and contend with the usual bodily functions.

Daily Echo: Sam as he crossed the finish lineHe said: "For those wondering - yes I had to go to the toilet on the go.

"But when you are facing deliria and trying to keep running, that really isn't too much of an issue."

Deprived of sleep, his mind also began to wander.

But although he wanted to quit many times, he said his family helped him push through to the finish line, smashing the race's 96-hour time limit.

Sam also raised a whopping £16,000 for the Piam Brown children's ward at Southampton General and said it was "humbling" that local businesses made donations: "My 14-year-old son Riley and my wife Amanda were there to support me so I didn't want to let them or the Piam Brown Ward down.

"Amanda had a friend that passed away on the ward and so it is close to our hearts as a family and that why I chose them.

"The care they provide is nothing short of phenomenal."

Daily Echo: Sam's feel became swollen after his 200 mile raceYou would think a 52-hour run would warrant a good nap after - but Sam said he has not had a full night's sleep since due to exhaustion.

But this should improve, along with the other side effect of extreme exercise, he said: "Not only did I have the delirium to deal with, but I also had hugely swollen ankles from the impact of running for so long."

The father-of-three wanted to say thank you to a number of Southampton business that made donations from £200 to £500.

These include SDS Roofing, Imperial Homes and Portmere Rubber.