Veteran fell runner dies in race
A fell runner who collapsed and died during a race in the Mournes was a stalwart of mountain competitions, a rescue team official has said.
The 68-year-old married man from Belfast died close to the 560-metre high summit of Slieve Moughanmore in the west of the range on Thursday evening while competing in the Hill and Dale race series.
The race covers nearly three-and-a-half miles and a climb of around 1,500ft. The experienced competitor was about halfway through the event, which covers three peaks.
He had been doing the extreme sport for three or four decades, said Martin McMullan from the Mourne mountain rescue team.
"He would have been a stalwart of the Northern Ireland mountain running scene, very active at a very high level for many years," he said.
"It is a very close-knit community and it is a unique environment. There were people last night who had ran with him for 30-40 years, it is more like a massive family rather than a sporting gathering."
He was in a group of runners when he collapsed near the top of the mountain. Other competitors who are doctors were on the scene quickly and the Mourne mountain rescue team attended but he died on the peak.
A total of 180 people were competing in the popular race.
Mr McMullan, the rescue co-ordinator, said the race covers challenging terrain but is a moderate race in the series. He added that those that participate are well prepared and participate at their own level.
"The whole of the mountain running community all knew the gentleman," he added.