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Runner who died in London Marathon inspires $500,000 donations

LONDON - A British fund-raising marathon runner who collapsed and died less than one mile before the finish line of London's Marathon has inspired thousands of Internet donations totaling more than half a million dollars.

Claire Squires, from Leicestershire, England, was entering the home stretch of the 26 mile London Marathon on Sunday when she collapsed in Birdcage Walk, near St James's Park.

Despite efforts by first-responders, the 30-year-old died at the scene.

She had been running to raise money for the suicide support group, Samaritans, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph. It said her brother, Grant, died from an overdose at age 25 and her mother, Priscilla, has been a volunteer at the charity for a number of years.

She had raised £500 ($807) from family and friends for the charity by the time Sunday’s race began. "If everyone I know could donate £5.00 ($8) that would be a great help and change lives," she wrote on her fund-raising Internet page.

However, since news of her death broke, cash has been flooding in at a rate of hundreds of pounds a minute. By Tuesday morning there were over 28,000 donations totaling £318,000 ($513,000).

Catherine Johnstone, chief executive of Samaritans, which counsels the depressed and suicidal, told Agence France-Presse: "This is an incredibly sad time for Claire's family and all those who knew her.

"We desperately wish that it was not under these circumstances but we have been overwhelmed by the response from people donating in Claire's memory.

"These donations will be put into a tribute fund and, following discussions with the family, will go towards projects they feel would have been important to Claire."

Squires' family said in a statement: "Words cannot explain what an incredible, inspirational, beautiful and driven person she was. She was loved by so many and is dearly missed by all of us."

Tests to establish why Squires collapsed as she neared the finish line are expected to take place in the coming days.

She was the 11th runner to die in the London Marathon since the event started in 1981.

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