28-year old Canadian runner dies

TORONTO -- Danny Kassap, a former world-class runner who fled to Canada from Congo during a 2001 competition, died Monday a day after withdrawing from a race because he was not feeling well. He was 28.

He died at Toronto's Sunnybrook Hospital, said Alan Brookes, director of the Canada Running Series. No cause was given. Kassap was to have run in the Sporting Life Toronto 10K on Sunday.

"His passion for running, and his positive, enthusiastic personality were infectious," Brookes said.

Kassap came to Canada 10 years ago to compete in the eight-sport Francophone Games in Ottawa and Gatineau. He settled in Toronto and was denied a refugee claim before being granted Canadian citizenship in 2008.

That year, he collapsed during a marathon in Berlin. He was placed in a medically induced coma for several days. Upon returning to Canada, he was diagnosed with ventricular fibrillation, brought on by an inflammation of the heart.

He took eight months off to recover, winning a 5-kilometer race before running in a half-marathon almost one year to the day he collapsed.

In 2004, the 5-foot-7, 125-pound runner won the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 2 hours, 14 minutes, 50 seconds in his first try at a 26.2-mile race. At the time, he was working in a fish and chip shop to pay his bills.

His time was three minutes faster than that of any Canadian. The Canadian marathon record is 2:10:08, set by Jerome Drayton in 1975.