<
>

Runner's death inspires donations

LONDON -- When Claire Squires set off on the London Marathon on Sunday, she had raised about $800 for charity.

Three days after the race, her online total hit $1.1 million. And it just keeps increasing.

The 30-year-old Englishwoman collapsed near the end of the 26.2-mile course near Buckingham Palace and died. The outpouring of generosity has come from about 60,000 people.

"It's just overwhelming ... the generosity of people and what Claire has actually achieved," brother-in-law James Birrell told the BBC. "Something good has unfortunately come out of something bad."

The donations will go to the Samaritans, a charity which works to prevent suicides. The organization usually raises around $6 million annually from individual donations.

"For Claire and the Samaritans, please keep the donations coming. Don't stop giving, just like her," the family said in a statement. "It's what she would have wanted ... words cannot explain what an incredible, inspirational, beautiful and driven person she was."

Squires is the 11th participant to die in the London Marathon since it started in 1981. She had climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with a friend last year to raise $2,400 for the Royal Air Force Association.

"Claire is an inspiration to us all," said friend Nicola Short, who was on the trip. "She brought laughter and love to everyone's life."

On Tuesday, Samaritans chief executive Catherine Johnstone said the charity had been "overwhelmed" by the public response.

"This is an incredibly sad time for Claire's family and all those who knew her," she said. "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."

Friends also paid tribute to Squires as a person committed to helping others.

"Claire was larger than life, fun-loving, bubbly, happy, cheerful, kind, giving, thoughtful," said Victoria Hauser. "She was just the most amazing person in the world -- the best friend I have ever had."

The family still doesn't know what caused the 30-year-old hairdresser from North Kilworth, England, to collapse and die.

"It is hard to understand. She was young, fit and strong and had really been looking forward to the run," said Simon Van Herrewege, Squires' boyfriend. "She was an amazing person who was always doing stuff for charity and to help others. This is a difficult time for her family."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.