A 63-year-old fell runner died of hypothermia after he plunged 1,000ft in the Lake District because bungling race officials lost count of the entrants, an inquest has heard.
Brian Belfield, 63, disappeared as he competed in the gruelling Buttermere Sailbeck Fell Run on April 28, 2012.
Despite falling down the mountainside he suffered no broken bones but died from exposure after landing in a freezing puddle.
Race officials only realised he had failed to finish the race when Mr Belfield’s wife Sandra, who was waiting for him at a guest house in Keswick, alerted them.
An inquest at Cockermouth Coroners Court heard a total of 133 runners entered the 9.5 mile race but a mix-up meant organisers assumed only 132 runners had taken part.
By the time rescue crews began searching the mountainside weather conditions were too bad and his body was found the next morning.
Cumbria Deputy Coroner Robert Chapman said: “The post-mortem was clear in stating a number of cuts, bruises and abrasions to his body which indicated injuries from sliding rather than a fall.
“There were no broken bones. It may be that he was unconscious which explains why he did got attempt to get out of the pool of water.”
The inquest heard Mr Belfield – a member of Staffordshire Moorlands Athletics Club – had set off wearing a thermal top and also had a whistle and a compass.
Three runners abandoned the arduous mountain run, including an early withdrawal.
Race organiser Michael Robinson told the inquest he used his radio to tell marshals about the early withdrawal and then asked a spectator to relay the message to volunteer marshals at the fifth and final checkpoint.
He then went to the finishing line before heading off to organise the prizegiving while participants still crossed the line.
Mr Robinson said: “With hindsight I think that with one dropping out so early the figure of 132 has stuck with some people.”
Mrs Belfield, from Leek, Staffs., attended the inquest with the couple’s children Tracy and Andrew. She said her husband had started running about 15 years ago.
She said: “He always did it as a hobby and wasn’t one of the elite racers.
“The last time I saw him was about 11.40am when he went off to the race. I usually expected him back after about four hours but he never returned.”
The inquest continues.