Marathon runner Claire had taken energy supplement which was later banned, inquest hears

Claire Squires
Claire Squires

Claire Squires, who collapsed near the finish of the London Marathon, probably died as the result of taking a legally-available stimulant that was later banned, an inquest heard.

Claire Squires (30), of North Kilworth, collapsed in Birdcage Walk, a mile from the finish line of the 26.2 mile event on April 22 last year.

Southwark Coroner’s Court today (Wednesday) heard the “amphetamine-like” drug DMAA, which is found in some sports nutrition supplements, was in her system.

It was an ingredient in a supplement which she had bought legally online, the inquest heard.

The substance was eventually banned in August last year.

Her boyfriend Simon van Herrewege had told the inquest Miss Squires had put a scoop of the supplement - called Jack 3D - in her water bottle.

Coroner Dr Philip Barlow said that the supplement containng the DMAA had, on the balance of probabilities, in combination with extreme physical exertion, caused acute cardiac failure resulting in her death.

He said he hoped the coverage of the case would help publicise the potentially harmful effects of DMAA during extreme exertion.

Miss Squires, a regular runner who had run the London Marathon before, had aimed to raise £500 for Samaritans but the total jumped to more than £1 million following a public outpouring of support in the aftermath of her death.

Mr Van Herrewege told the inquest told the inquest Claire had been traiing hard in the run-up to the marathon.

“She would go to the gym. Or I would go out on the bike and she would run. She would take the dogs,” he said.

“For the marathon she built up the distances. She would regularly run with her sister. She knew what she was doing.”

When asked about the supplement Mr Van Herrewege said: “I would say [she took it] two or three occasions prior to running the marathon.

“This stuff was being fairly widely used. The rugby club boys said they were using it.

“Claire ended up getting a tub.

“It is a supplement - prior to training you took this stuff and it is supposed to give an energy boost.

“She took it a couple of times, but she never really got on with it.

“I do not think she particularly liked it.

“But she said for the marathon she wanted to beat her previous time and she said she was going to take one scoop of this in her water bottle and drink the water as she went round the course.

“If she had a lull she might take the drink to give her a boost to get her through to the end of the marathon.

“She had the bottle with her and I presume that is what she did.

“She wanted to beat four hours. She was a good runner.

“She was tracked running a good time.”

The devoted boyfriend told how he waited for Claire at the finish line, but she never arrived.

Mr Van Herrewege said: “I said it would meet her at the finish line.

“We were just outside Buckingham palace - about 300 yards from the finish line.

“That is the difficult part (of the race).

“We were stood there when it got to four hours.

“It got past four hours and we thought never mind she has not made her time.

“And then we got the call.”

Off-duty London Ambulance Service paramedic, Donna Tucker, witnessed Claire collapse.

She told the inquest: “I saw a female with dark hair in a ponytail wearing a blue vest.

“She was slowing down. I called out Claire’s name to encourage her as I did with other runners. She made eye contact.

“Claire started to run again but slowed down.

“She reached out with both hands in an attempt to steady herself.

“A male runner ran between Claire and the barrier which she was making for and appeared to brush against her and she fell backward.

“She had a mild seizure lasting about five seconds.

“St John’s Ambulance attended very quickly.

“Shortly after I could see she was not moving at all.”