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Struck by lightning, Wichita-area runner dies as he approached finish of 50K trail race

A Wichita area distance runner died after he was struck by lightning as he approached the finish of a 50K race on Saturday.

“Thomas Stanley tragically passed away when he was struck by lightning, just as he was approaching his 50K finish yesterday afternoon,” race organizers of the FlatRock 50K and 25K wrote in a Facebook post.

“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. Our deepest condolences to Thomas’ family and all who knew this wonderful man.”

The trail race was held at Elk City State Park near Independence in Montgomery County. Fifty kilometers is about 31 miles, making the race more than 4 miles longer than a marathon.

Race results show Stanley is 33 years old and from Andover.

“Though he unfortunately was not able to cross the finish line, he did complete a 50K in distance and is recognized as a finisher,” race organizers wrote on Facebook.

Stanley was the director of business initiatives at the Kansas Leadership Center, according to his staff biography. He was a 2008 graduate of Wichita State University.

“His passion is centered around building leadership capacity within faith communities,” the staff bio states. “For fun, he runs endlessly to train for his next race and enjoys spending time with his wife, Ashley, their daughters, Charlotte and Claire, and son Peter.”

He was also a board member of Run Wichita, the city’s running club.

The National Weather Service had predicted some severe thunderstorms in southeast Kansas that afternoon bringing large hail, damaging winds and heavy rain to some areas.

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