A 51-year-old man is dead after collapsing on a ski trail near Grenville-sur-la-Rouge, Que., during a cross-province marathon on Saturday.

The man, who is from the Ottawa area, was participating in the Canadian Ski Marathon.

The president of the board of the Canadian Ski Marathon, Julie Boyer, said the man went into cardiac arrest while skiing with his wife and friends.

"They started CPR right away, the skier that was following him was a doctor," said Boyer.   

"He started CPR about five seconds after he collapsed."

When first responders arrived they were unable to resuscitate him.

"His wife, of course, is shattered," Boyer said, adding that the couple has children. "We're going to try to be there for that family."

The family has asked for privacy, she said.

Skiing cross-country

The marathon, which started on Saturday, uses a trail that stretches from Lachute to Gatineau, Que. (Loreen Pindera/CBC)

First death at ski marathon

Boyer said the man was registered as a "tourer," which means he picked the sections he wanted to ski that day.

She called him an "experienced" skier who had taken part in the event before, but didn't know how many times.

The marathon has 31 first responders and paramedics along the trail with snowmobiles, said Boyer.

She does not know how long it took for them to reach the man, but said organizers would soon review their safety plan to make sure everything was done properly.

According to Boyer, it is the first time since the marathon began 51 years ago that a death has occurred.

Julie Boyer Canadian Ski Marathon

Julie Boyer, the president of the board of the Canadian Ski Marathon, said they didn't play music or set off fireworks, as they usually do, out of respect for the man. (Andrew Foote/CBC)

The marathon, which started on Saturday, uses a trail stretching from Lachute to Gatineau, Que.

About 1,700 skiers from across Canada and the United States are registered for the two-day event.

A moment of silence was observed Sunday morning. Boyer said organizers will meet Monday to find a long-term way to honour his memory, such as naming a part of the course after him.

"We will think of how to remember this skier in the future years," she said.