A QUICK-thinking policeman helped saved the life of a runner in the New Forest Marathon, it has emerged.

PC Jamie Wiseman of Lymington was on duty marshalling the race near the railway bridge in Stem Lane, New Milton, less than a mile from the finish, when one of the competitors, a man in his 30s, collapsed.

Pc Wiseman and a spectator went to the man's aid and called an ambulance. He was taken to Lymington Hospital and released the following day after treatment.

Sgt Bernadette Smith, who organises police at the event said: "I heard him on the radio a few minutes later, 'Can you get an ETA for the ambulance please? If it doesn't get here soon I think we're going to lose him'.

"I could tell by the sound of his voice that it was a very worrying five minutes and he told me afterwards that the runner was turning blue and that he stopped breathing and lost consciousness several times.

"He was relieved to see the St John's Ambulance arrive, who got him safely off to Lymington Hospital.

"Thankfully he was released from hospital the following day."

Race director Chris Harris said: "We are grateful, as the race organisers, that the police and St John Ambulance were on the scene so quickly.

"The St John people are around the course with a couple of ambulances with Raynet providing radio contact. The policeman on the job obviously knew his stuff too.

"It's a good outcome as far as we're concerned."

Mr Harris spoke to the runner's wife at the weekend and was told he was back in training. The 2003 marathon made £30,000 for charity and a bigger sum is expected this year.

Sgt Smith has organised the road closures and policing of the marathon and half marathon for four of the last five years.

This year's races on September 19 attracted 1,400 entrants in the half marathon and 400 tackled the full 26.2 miles.

"For me the stress of running the police operation eases once both races have started," said Sgt Smith.

"It is quite a sight to see 1,400 runners filling the road completely as far as the Rising Sun at Wootton."