FITNESS expert Nick Poppin became a local sporting hero when he tore across the New Forest Marathon finishing line in first place.

The Bournemouth Athletic Club runner lived within a stone’s throw of the finishing line at Arnewood School, New Milton, and had just attained a degree in sport and exercise. He took control of the gruelling 26-mile race at the halfway stage and finished in two hours 34 minutes and 40 seconds.

Nick was not only victorious that day on September 10. 1989, but was sixth in the same race the year previous.

Bournemouth Echo: New Forest Marathon - September 10, 1989..

“I love the Forest course, it’s a wonderful race. When I took the lead I just kept going, I never looked back” said the proud athlete after only his second marathon ever.

He was eight minutes ahead of second man Mike Smith and Peter Farrell in third place.

Bournemouth Echo: New Forest Marathon - September 10, 1989..

Pam Small made it as first lady for the second year running with a time of three hours, two minutes and 11 seconds - ten minutes faster than the previous year.

The more popular half marathon 2,200 runners produced an excellent winning time of one hour seven minutes, and 37 seconds.

Bournemouth Echo: