KUCHING - It was supposed to be a joyous weekend getaway here for Bruneian Abdul Aziz Japar, who signed up for the inaugural Kuching Marathon. However, the 54-year-old collapsed and died within the first half of the run.
Abdul Aziz had taken part in the 5km category, comprising about 1,000 participants, which started from Padang Merdeka at 7am yesterday.
According to eyewitnesses, he fell unconscious before the midpoint at Jalan Muhibbah, which is along the picturesque Malay villages in the inner city.
Local police confirmed Abdul Aziz was picked up by emergency services and pronounced dead on arrival at Sarawak General Hospital around 7.30am. Police said the deceased arrived in Kuching on Friday with friends to take part in the event, which attracted about 5,500 runners from 30 countries.
About 2,000 runners were foreigners, with Bruneians, Singaporeans and Kenyans making up the majority of overseas participants.
Statistics compiled by EventFeet showed runners between 51 and 60 years old comprised 7 per cent of the total participants. The event included 5km to 42km categories, with the furthest distance run starting at 3am. No other casualties or serious injuries were reported.
The event was organised by the Kuching Marathon Association (KMA) in collaboration with the Kuching North City Hall.
When contacted, KMA president Wong Chen Yi said that Abdul Aziz's family had been informed.
"Arrangements have been made to repatriate the deceased back to Brunei," Wong said.