It was race day in Cardiff, a half-marathon that attracted thousands of excited runners and fans from across the United Kingdom on Oct. 7.
Friends and family eagerly gathered to run the race together or cheer in support of their favorite runners.
Among the racers was Ben McDonald, 25, who ran alongside his girlfriend and his family. Also in the race was husband and father Dean Fletcher, 32.
Tragically, the two young runners died after finishing the race, both from cardiac arrest.
It’s a heartbreaking scenario that is difficult to swallow — two healthy, athletic young people taking their final breath just moments after running a race they’d been training for and anticipating for months.
In a statement, Run 4 Wales Chief Executive Matt Newman expressed condolences to the families affected.
“This is a terrible tragedy for the families. Our deepest sympathies go out to their family and friends,” Newman said.
“The emergency services reacted to this terrible situation with great speed and professionalism. Everyone connected with the race is devastated.”
McDonald’s girlfriend, Amy Stanton Foo, wrote a heartbreaking tribute to the man she loved, Wales Online reported.
“I want him to be remembered for the happy, smiley, adventurous, loving person that he was — it’s what he would’ve wanted,” Foo wrote.
“Words can’t describe the heartbreak and devastation myself and his family are going through.”
“It’s been an absolute honor to call you my boyfriend Benny, and I really can’t imagine my life without you,” Foo continued. “I love you, sleep tight.”
Fletcher leaves behind his wife, Katie, and young daughter Evie.
Described as an “amazing husband and father,” Fletcher worked as an accountant and also worked to raise funds in support of mental health and neuroscience research.
Run 4 Wales officials said these two tragic deaths are a first in Cardiff Half-Marathon history. They said the weather was perfect for racing, and added that heat was not a factor in the deaths.
Tributes and heartfelt condolences are pouring out on social media, as the running community mourns the loss together and reflects on just how unpredictable life can be.
“The whole team at Run 4 Wales are completely devastated with the news that unfolded and our thoughts and priorities are with the two families involved,” Newman said, requesting privacy for both families during this time.
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