MARLOW'S marathon queen Samantha Amend picked up a bronze medal after stepping out of her comfort zone to compete in her first-ever ultra marathon.

She covered 84 miles in three days along the Ridgeway path but her lack of experience on such a long route didn't get in her way.

Amend finished nearly two and a half hours ahead of the next female finisher as she ran from Ivinghoe Beacon in Bucks to Overton, near Swindon, in a total time of 10h56m17s.

Joining her in the medal positions was Chiltern Harriers runner Eddie O'Gorman, who finished second in a time of 10h54m48s, with friend and Handy Cross runner John Dooey finishing in 22nd place despite a sickness bug almost putting him out of the running on the third and final day.

A delighted Amend said: "I'm really proud of my achievement. I was out of my comfort zone and didn't know who was going to be there. I even beat a Belgian international, who should have been running quicker than me.

"I needed to set myself a target and go for something different. I was targeting running eight or eight and half minute miles but did seven to seven and a half minute miling the whole way.

"It's very challenging mentally and physically. When you race on roads it's about time but when you compete off road it's completely different, it's about endurance."

The 32-year-old said she never felt she wouldn't complete the course: "I was more worried about getting lost, that was the biggest problem. I knew in myself I would do everything, even if I was going to cross the line crawling along.

"I felt tired every day I got up but after six or seven miles I eased into it and felt comfortable.

"There are times you are running on your own and there's no marshalls. There's a few checkpoints but that's it."

Asked if she would do another ultra marathon, Amend said: "If the circumstances are right, yes I would.It's given me confidence and it's been a positive part of my training.

"I'd maybe do one a year if it didn't impact on my future desire to get to the Commonwealth Games. I haven't reached close to my potential and I have to push myself a bit more."

She followed up the Druid Challenge by winning the Rugged Radnage 10k race on Sunday - setting a new personal best time for the course despite slipping over at the 3km mark.