Rich finishes the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon a year after heart surgery
HE was born with a deformed heart, has overcome recent major heart surgery, raised hundreds for charity and now Rich Harris has come over the finish line for his first marathon.
The 46-year-old finished the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon in under fiveÂ hours today and raised more than Â£800Â for Cystic Fibrosis Kids Portsmouth.
He said: '˜I am so proud of myself for what I have achieved today and I am impressed with finishing my first marathon.'
Running has become a passion for Rich after his heart surgery in 2017 last year and says the Baffins Fit Club has helped him to fulfil his childhood hopes.
He said: '˜As a child I could not get involved with PE lessons or do sports because of my heart and I did really miss out and I have always had to be a bit careful but I have always wanted to run more and be active.'
In 2016 Rich was told without surgery on his heart valves he could drop dead.
He said: '˜It was a shock and pushed me to get the surgery and as well we lost my dad 10 years ago because he didn't get to have his heart surgery.
'˜He was on the donor list and got really poorly in the end so a combination of that made me do it and I wouldn't be here without the fantastic people at Southampton General Hospital.'
The foster carer wanted to inspire the two boys he currently looks after with his wife Emma as well as three daughters, Jessica, Emilie and Bethany Harris.
He said: '˜My daughters are so proud of me and although they couldn't come down today because they are community nurses, just knowing they are proud of me really helped.
'˜I was alright for the first 13 miles and then after mile 20 it was harder than I expected as it was really muddy.'
Rich ran with fellow Baffins Fit Club member Nikki Tout.
She said: '˜I think Rich is an amazing man and he is a very inspiring person.
'˜I am so proud of him and we both thank the running club because they are all supportive and it is like a family.'
Rich added: '˜Next year I have signed up to the Ultra Portsmouth Coastal Marathon which is 32 miles and I think I am probably the mad one in our group but I just want to keep my fitness up.'
To donate visitÂ tinyurl.com/ya65qcasÂ textÂ 70070 code CFKP72 with the amount you want to donate e.g. CFKP72 Â£10.