An adventuring world stretching much wider than just Hawke's Bay is already considering how it will pay enduring tribute to ultimate challenger and inspiration Samuel Gibson, who has died after a race fall from his wheelchair.

Father-of-two, afflicted with a severe brittle bone disease and just 90cm tall, Mr Gibson, aged 39, died in Hawke's Bay Hospital early yesterday, having received unsurvivable head injuries during a 10km race on Saturday, run as part of the inaugural Air New Zealand Hawke's Bay International Marathon.

The race was just one of a growing list of challenges in which he had both astounded and inspired everyone around him, including yachting across Cook Strait and completing Hawke's Bay's own Triple Peaks Challenge.

In October he was planning to undertake a 300km journey from Mt Cook to the sea to help a 2-year-old boy suffering the mutually shared and rare osteogenesis imperfecta bone disease.


Last night, Triple Peaks director David Tait, who first encountered Mr Gibson last year, said news of the tragedy had come as an extreme shock to everyone in the adventuring world, as it saw his "star rising" amid recognition of the never-say-no attitude which had inspired so many.

Mr Tait was inspired first just seeing Mr Gibson as a father bringing his daughter to the Flaxrock climbing wall in Flaxmere, but there was much more to come when Mr Gibson completed the 12km Triple Peaks Challenge across mounts Erin and Kahuranaki and Te Mata Peak in March.

"He really inspired a whole lot of us," said Mr Tait who, bitten by the enthusiasm of the man, found himself adopting the never-say-no approach as he helped with Triple Peak arrangements to make sure Mr Gibson could compete safely.

"One of his catchphrases was 'anything is possible', he was living life to the full and obviously with what happened at the weekend the whole adventuring community is devastated," Mr Tait said.

"I think it is right for some stuff to happen on the back of all his efforts," he said.

In a statement following Mr Gibson's death, brother Matthew said the family thanked the Emergency Department and Intensive Care Unit teams at Hawke's Bay Hospital for their care of Samuel.

"Unfortunately the injuries that Samuel sustained were not survivable," he said.

The family was also grateful for the support shown to Mr Gibson's wife, Jen, and daughters Rosa and Isabelle.

"Thank you also for the many kind messages of support that have been received. Samuel will be greatly missed by so many people, he touched so many lives and was an inspiration to us all."

The family also thanked organisers of the marathon and major sponsors Air New Zealand for their support.

Funeral arrangements were last night still to be announced.

Police earlier said they were investigating circumstances of the death on behalf of the coroner.