Cause of marathon death still unknown

LONDON • London Marathon organisers have sought to quell speculation that the sweltering temperature of 24.1 deg C - the hottest on record for the race - had been a factor in the death of a man on Sunday.

Organisers announced on Monday that Matt Campbell, a professional chef and former contestant on the reality TV programme MasterChef, had died after collapsing during the marathon.

The 29-year-old was running his first London Marathon and race director Hugh Brasher, in a tribute to Campbell, called his death "unusual and tragic".

"In historical terms, I believe in 38 editions of the event, we have had over one million finishers and sadly there have been 14 deaths," he said. "It is unusual and it is always tragic when it happens. There will be an autopsy so we can't - and we shouldn't - speculate about what should happen next. All we should say is that our thoughts are with Matt's family and friends.

"He was a good runner... he collapsed around the 22.5-mile (36.2km) mark. He did receive immediate medical attention but unfortunately he did pass away."

The last death at the London Marathon came in 2016, when Afghanistan war veteran David Seath had a cardiac arrest 4.8km short of the finish.

In a statement, race organisers said: "No further details will be released and the family has asked for privacy. The exact cause of death will be established by later medical examination."

The Daily Express and Daily Mail reported on Monday that dozens of runners had collapsed and required medical attention after buckling in the heat, with the BBC quoting Brasher as saying that the event had run out of water at three separate points of the race.

Heat exhaustion also took its toll at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games earlier this month after Scotland's Callum Hawkins looked set for the marathon gold, only to collapse near the finishing line in 27 deg C conditions.

In 2007, the last time the London Marathon was held in conditions comparable to this year's event, 600 people failed to complete the course.

One participant died from drinking too much water, and organisers also attracted criticism for water shortages at some points along the route.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 25, 2018, with the headline 'Cause of marathon death still unknown'. Print Edition | Subscribe