Tragic British athlete Chris Smith, who died suddenly during a visit to a Perthshire beauty spot, was “doing everything he could to run back to his family”.
An inquest has found that the 43-year-old died of hypothermia and exposure while out in atrocious weather conditions at Invervar, near Aberfeldy.
The father-of-two disappeared while running through the remote area in October last year.
His body was found at Meall Garbh after almost 48 hours of searching.
An inquest at the coroner’s court in Crawley, near where Mr Smith lived in Sussex, heard that he died when weather conditions deteriorated, despite his meticulous planning beforehand.
A family statement following today’s inquest ❤️ pic.twitter.com/t38Sfo766R
— Chris Smith Memorial Fund (@csmemorialfund) March 2, 2021
He kept running through driving sleet, reduced visibility and a wind chill of -11C.
A post mortem ruled that Mr Smith died from hypothermia.
Assistant Coroner for West Sussex Robert Simpson found that his death was an accident caused by adverse weather.
But the inquest could not determine whether Mr Smith came off his planned route to seek shelter from the weather, or because of the effects of hypothermia.
Mr Smith’s family released a statement after the inquiry, thanking searchers and volunteers who went to his aid including mountain rescue teams in Tayside and Strathclyde and police in Pitlochry.
“Over the last four months, we have pieced together as much information as possible about Chris’s run that day,” the family said.
“This has helped us hugely and whilst we may never know exactly what happened to Chris, it is clear that he was doing everything he could to run back to his family.
“Chris was always be remembered as a fantastic dad, husband, son, brother and uncle. A beacon of energy and love, and an example of a life so very well lived.”
Mr Smith, who is originally from Aberdeen but lived in Haywards Heath with his family, had represented Team GB in international mountain running events. He also worked as a civil servant.
The Brighton-based Argus reported that wife Lindsay Smith told the inquest: “He hadn’t taken the route lightly and had fully researched it.
“I felt he was fully prepared.”
The family had been touring Scotland in October when Mr Smith planned for his run at Invervar.
He set off from a hotel in Glen Lyon at around 2.50pm on October 27, carrying a phone with an OS map. He told his family he would be back by 5pm.
Mrs Smith called police when she hadn’t heard from him by 7.22pm.
Mr Smith was found by two friends who had joined the search at about midday on October 29. He was lying in heather, well off his planned route.
The coroner’s findings stated: “I do find it unlikely he could have survived the night given his location, clothes and equipment he had with him.”