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Lightning tragedy: Runner dies after being struck near finish line of 50km endurance race

Lightning tragedy: Runner dies after being struck near finish line of 50km endurance race
Tragedy struck during an endurance race in Kansas, US, when a runner died after being hit by lightning not far from the finish line.

Thomas Stanley, 33, was competing in the FlatRock 50k at Elk City State Park at the weekend when he was struck by lightning less than a quarter of a mile from the end.

Efforts to revive Stanley were unsuccessful, and race organizers later confirmed the tragic news that the runner had died.

READ MORE: Frightening scenes as golf fans injured when lightning strikes course in Atlanta

Stanley is survived by his wife and three children, who were not at the race but were informed in a phone call from a local sheriff.

His wife Ashley said the loss had been taken particularly hard by their six-year-old daughter, who heartbreakingly asked her: “If daddy didn't do the race, he would still be here, right?”

“I said, 'yes.' She said, 'I wish daddy didn't do that race,' and I said, 'me too.''

Tributes to Stanley were also paid in a statement released through event organizers, saying: "Thomas' family says that the chances of being killed by a lightning strike are about one in a million, and Thomas was truly a one-in-a-million guy.”

A former colleague who worked with Thomas at Kansas Leadership Center praised him as being “full of love and full of passion, I think everyone just feels shaken and shocked and heartbroken.”

Stanley was said to have been planning to complete the 50km (31-mile) race in under 7 hours.

A GoFundMe page has been set up for his family and at the time of writing had reached almost $74,000.

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