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Man dies in 'one-in-a-million' tragedy near finish line of 50km race

A father of three has been fatally struck by lighting just before crossing the finishing line of a 50k marathon.

Organisers of the Flat Rock 50k and 25k race confirmed that 33-year-old Thomas Stanley was struck as he was approaching the finishing line for the 50km marathon in Kansas on Saturday afternoon (local time).

His grief stricken wife, Ashley Stanley, posted a moving tribute to her husband and “father of my babies” on Facebook.

“Thomas went to run at the FlatRock 50k yesterday and was struck by lightning,” Mrs Stanley posted on September 29, along with several photos of her “best friend”.

“My heart hurts and I feel sick to my stomach, I had 15 blessed years of knowing my best friend and I was planning to have 79,” she added.

Thomas Stanley during the last race flatrock 50
Thomas Stanley with his family (left) and during his final race (right). Source: Facebook/Ashley Stanley/Flat Rock 50/Mile 90 Photography

Local media, Fox 8, reported that other runners stopped and attempted to perform CPR on Mr Stanley, while bystanders drove their cars to the finish line to make sure other runners had shelter from the storm.

The FlatRock organisers announced on Facebook that they had made the decision to add Mr Stanley’s name to the list of those who finished the race, and with his family’s permission they posted the last photos taken of him before the freak accident.

“Though he unfortunately was not able to cross the finish line, he did complete a 50K in distance and is recognised as a finisher,” the post read.

The post also acknowledged those who stopped to help Mr Stanley after he was struck by lightening.

“We will make time adjustments for those who stopped to help Thomas as well,” organisers wrote.

Mr Stanley was listed as finishing the 50km race in 11th place, his race number was 635.

FlatRock race organisers also posted a tribute to the runner on Facebook. “Our hearts are with Ashley and the Stanley family,” the post read.

“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”.

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