Northern Ireland

Belfast Marathon death: Stephen Heaney named

Stephen Heaney
Image caption Stephen Heaney pictured on the morning of the Belfast Marathon

A runner from Limavady who died after collapsing during the Belfast marathon has been named.

Stephen Heaney, 50, collapsed at the Sydenham bypass, five miles into the race.

The event's organisers said two ambulances were quickly at the scene to take the man to the Royal Victoria Hospital.

It's understood it was his first marathon, although he was a regular runner.

Mr Heaney's family have requested privacy.

Image copyright Michael Cooper
Image caption About 17,000 people took part in Monday's Belfast Marathon

Mr Heaney was among 17,000 runners taking part in the 37th annual Belfast City Marathon.

Former Belfast Lord Mayor Alderman Brian Kingston told the BBC that the runner's death was "terrible news".

Mr Kingston is also a marathon runner.

"It's a day all about fitness, achievement, about people wanting to push themselves that bit extra, to achieve a great physical feat," he said.

"That a man has died is the worst possible news."

He said a fatality was "a rare event" and had not happened at the Belfast marathon for nearly 30 years.

"This very much overshadows everything that has happened on the day and everyone will want to convey condolences to the family," he said.

Pulse Fitness in Limavady posted a tribute on Facebook on the day of the marathon stating: "Our day started with so much excitement but unfortunately ended with broken hearts.

"Today we lost our special friend, who will always be remembered forever. RIP Stephen."

DUP councillor Alan Robinson said: "The Limavady community is stunned at the dreadful news that began to filter through yesterday.

"The gentleman was well known and from a well respected family circle.

"Obviously the entire community's heart goes out to his family and his friends as they deal with this sudden and tragic loss."

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