160 people from the UK took part in the Vodafone Malta Marathon Carlo Allegri/Reuters

A British man collapsed and died just 50 yards from the finish line of the half marathon held in the seaside town of Sliema, located some 19 km from Malta's capital city of Valletta. Mike Freeman, 55, from Essex, was rushed to hospital, where he died shortly afterwards.

According to reports, Freeman collapsed at about 11.30am (local time) on 28 February and was rushed to Mater Dei Hospital but died shortly after arriving at the hospital. Freeman, who was a classroom assistant at Notley Green Primary School and a member of Great Notley-based Michelle's Running Group, was given the all-clear by a doctor, even though he complained he had suffered from chest pain two weeks ago, it has been reported.

"I can't even start to say thank you for all your lovely comments. I can't believe this has happened but I know he [Mike Freeman] would want tomorrow to go ahead," his wife Nicola said, according to the Daily Mail.

"He [Mike Freeman] loved running and he loved you all. One of our last words were about running up to the finish and how lovely it would be to see you all there. He joked next year eh! Devastated," she added.

"In light of today's tragic news, regarding the death of our dear friend Mike Freeman, I have been deliberating whether to run our usual Monday sessions," member of the Michelle's Running Group, Michelle Caulfield, said. "I have decided to take the groups as normal, as I think people will want to come together at this sad time. Sessions will be free of charge," Caulfield said.

"Our thoughts are with the family of a British man who died in Malta on 28 February," A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman said. "We stand ready to assist them at this difficult time," the spokesman said. An autopsy is due to be held on 29 February.

The 2016 Vodafone Malta Marathon and the half marathon, which was held for the 31st time, saw more than 4,300 people, including 160 from the UK, take part in the marathon, half marathon and walkathon.