A Saturday morning run ended in devastation for a Lower Hutt family after a young husband and father died at the finish line.

Chris Dawson, 39, took part in the 5km Lower Hutt parkrun regularly, but his quest to keep fit came to an end on Saturday after he suffered a cardiac event.

Wife Belinda Dawson and their two children were waiting at the finish line when Chris collapsed in front of them.

"We saw him coming along and he sprinted to beat his personal best, then he crossed the finish line and collapsed," Belinda said.

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"It was very sudden. There were parkrun people there who were with him straight away and gave CPR and called the ambulance ... but it was pretty clear he wasn't coming back."

Belinda said her husband's death was "completely unexpected" and very hard to witness.

"He was really fit and healthy. In fact he had seen a doctor a month or two before because he was talking about weight loss options. The doctor checked all his vitals and said they were all incredibly healthy," she said.

"He has had a post-mortem and it is inconclusive at this point, so they are doing further testing, but at this stage they can't say what caused it."

The couple met 15 years ago, and have been married for 11 years.

Chris Dawson, 39, from Lower Hutt, died on Saturday after suffering a cardiac event while out running. Photo / Supplied
Chris Dawson, 39, from Lower Hutt, died on Saturday after suffering a cardiac event while out running. Photo / Supplied

Chris has a 19-year-old daughter, Charla, along with two children with Belinda; 13-year-old Amelia, and 10-year-old Ben.

"He loved his kids and was always doing stuff with them like teaching them how to solder electronics, fly drones, take them mountain biking and camping etc," Belinda said.

While Chris described himself as a "socially awkward nerd" on his website, Belinda said her husband was a generous, enthusiastic and kind person.

"He was informally known as 'the crazy ideas guy'. I think if he'd had the means he would have been happy to be a mad inventor in his garage," she said.

She said Chris was "super enthusiastic and had a ton of hobbies", including; flying drones, 3D printing and The Maker Community. He was also a keen cyclist and loved the outdoors, camping and fishing.

"He was just one of these people who had a hundred things on the go. He could pick up any instrument and play it - he had a ukulele which was his favourite instrument."

Chris was brought up in Havelock North by an adoptive family, and moved to Wellington in his late teens. He also had strong ties with his birth parents and their families.

He had four younger half-siblings; Kate, Renee, Nick and Tara.

A service to celebrate Chris's life will be held in Heretaunga Christian Centre in Upper Hutt on Friday, March 15, at 1pm.
A service to celebrate Chris's life will be held in Heretaunga Christian Centre in Upper Hutt on Friday, March 15, at 1pm.

He had been working at Trade Me for the past six years, both in software development and relationship management.

"He was very much a self-taught kind of guy. He was too smart for school. He had no formal qualifications but taught himself everything he knew – and he knew a lot about a lot of things," Belinda said.

"He was a crazy person who would read books on particle physics just for fun. He would throw himself headlong into things, absorb them, and once he knew everything there was to know he would move on and find something else to learn."

Belinda said her husband was also a great prankster and would regularly do office pranks.

"He was the life and soul of the party. He filled the room with enthusiasm and energy and his openness to everything," she said.

Trade Me CEO Jon Macdonald said it had been a really difficult and sad few days.

"Our hearts go out to Chris' family and friends. We're in close contact with his family and have been doing our little bit to help out in what are incredibly tough times," he said.

"Chris was a larger-than-life character in Trade Me's Wellington office. I remember a warm, friendly and curious guy, quick to lend a hand with anything from work-related query to advice about kids' mountain bikes.

"He joined Trade Me just over six years ago and was initially in our Travel team. Most recently he worked in our Product & Technology team as our 'API evangelist', leading our API efforts and co-ordinating third-party integrations with the Trade Me platform.

"Outside of his day-to-day work he was passionate about many things including drone-wrangling and electronics in general. That passion saw him running an indoor drone-racing event at Wings Over Wairarapa recently."

Chris' friends have taken to social media to pay tribute, with people saying he was a "vibrant and amazing man", "intelligent and patient" and had "such an inquisitive mind and joy of life".

"Chris was a genius in every sense of the word, and was always someone I aspired to.

"He was an all-round awesome guy, and brought energy and excitement to the room," Jade Jackson wrote.

Another friend said, "Chris was always so kind, big-hearted and brave. I always admired the way he went about his work and he was just such a good bugger".

Another wrote, "Chris was just so kind and so generous and just a beacon of light and joy".

• A service to celebrate Chris's life will be held in Heretaunga Christian Centre in Upper Hutt on Friday, March 15, at 1pm, followed by interment at Akatarawa Cemetery.