Belgian missing after Malaysia run is found dead

The body of Belgian national Thomas Cools was found after he disappeared on Sept 17, 2016, during the International Hash Challenge.
The body of Belgian national Thomas Cools was found after he disappeared on Sept 17, 2016, during the International Hash Challenge. PHOTO: THE STAR / ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - A Belgian competitor who apparently lost his way during a day-long cross-country race in Malaysia has been found dead, police said Monday (Sept 19).

Thomas Cools was taking part on Saturday in the International Hash Challenge in which competitors followed a paper trail through a forested area.

The 34-year-old did not make the finish line, prompting authorities to start a search around the trail in Selangor state.

District police chief R. Supramaniam told AFP Cools' body was found 15km off the run trail on Monday morning.

"No foul play is suspected but a post mortem will be done to identify the cause of death," he said.

The race, which had 88 participants, began at 7am on Saturday and ended at 7.30pm the same day.

Supramaniam said there were five water points and resting areas along the 47km trail. Some runners had seen Cools, who appeared exhausted, on the way to the third water point and had advised him to return to the second one to rest, but to no avail.

"He had gone on this trail before. This was not his first time," added Supramaniam.

Hash races are held in numerous countries but have their roots in Malaysia. They were instituted in the late 1930s by British expatriates.

The races are non-competitive and emphasise the social aspect of running.