A father-of-two died after racing with his best friend across the finish line at the Kingston Breakfast Run.
Colin Higbee, 45, from Kingshill Avenue in Worcester Park collapsed on Sunday morning after running the 16mile race in 2 hours 17 minutes alongside best friend Raymond Payne.
A friend’s video showed Mr Higbee crossing the line with his friend before putting his hands on his knees. Mr Payne waves at the camera and moves away but Mr Higbee collapses to the floor.
He was treated for a cardiac arrest by paramedics and given CPR in front of concerned fellow competitors. He was pronounced dead at Kingston Hospital.
Mr Payne said: "We got 100 yards to the finish line. We gave it everything to beat each other like we do. He beat me by one second.
"I put my arms around him and said well done. We were taking photos and he was trying to get his breath back.
"I saw him go to his knees and it was like slow motion. I was shocked. You think it is a dream. He loved what he done – he loved running.
"Everybody is in tears. He was a great bloke. He was a bloke you could talk to for five minutes and you’d be friends.
"He was a decent family man. He was my best friend. He was best man at my wedding."
Mr Higbee’s daughter Emma, 21, flew out from France where she was studying and his son James, 18, came back from Sussex University.
Miss Higbee said: “He had so much energy – he just did not want to sit down. He was active, outgoing and would help anyone. I just want him to come back. I was very close to him. I was a daddy’s girl.”
She said her father had visited her in France the week before and she had wished him luck for the upcoming Breakfast Run which he had considered a warm-up ahead of the London Marathon in April.
His wife of 22 years, Constantina Higbee, 53, said: “It is so hard. He ran the breakfast run twice a year. Even if he had an ache he would not go to the doctors.
“He was a very loving husband and was positive about everything. I loved him very much.”
A long-serving Royal Mail employee, Mr Higbee worked in the Heathrow worldwide distribution centre alongside his friend Mr Payne and enjoyed running, tennis, cycling and reading.
He had also coached a number of Motspur Park-based football little league teams, including the Colts, Giants and Sabres. He was also assistant manager of the Raynes Park national team.
Nick Rusling, chief executive of Human Race, which organises the Breakfast Run, said “Myself and everyone associated with the event are greatly saddened by the news and our thoughts are with his family.”
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