Kansas runner killed by lightning near ultramarathon finish line

image copyrightFacebook/Ashley Stanley
image captionThirty-three-year-old Thomas Stanley was struck by lightning on Saturday

A Kansas runner has died after being hit by lightning as he neared the finish line of a 31 mile (50km) ultramarathon.

Thomas Stanley, 33, received first aid from runners and officials at the Elk City State Park race on Saturday, but died from his injuries, police said.

There were reports of strong to severe storms in the region ahead of the race.

The National Weather Service (NWS) reports 17 others have been killed by lightning across the US this year.

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In a Facebook post on Sunday, the organisers of the FlatRock race wrote: "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."

Stanley is survived by his wife, Ashley, and three children. A fundraiser for the family has raised over $45,000 in the past 24 hours alone.

media captionWhat causes thunder and lightning?

His wife received the race medal on his behalf, local media reported.

Mrs Stanley wrote that she had "lost my best friend, father of our babies, and love" in a Facebook post. "I had 15 blessed years of knowing my best friend and I was planning to have 79."

The Elk City park is located near Independence, Kansas, some 115 miles (185km) from Wichita.

According to the NWS, there is a one in 15,300 chance of being hit by lightning during an 80-year lifespan, and only 10% who are struck are killed.

Lightning can travel up to 12 miles (19km) from a thunderstorm.

media captionA camera captured the moment the teenagers were struck by lightning

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