A pretty runner who collapsed and died within site of the London Marathon finish line had downed a banned health supplement to boost her performance, an inquest heard today.
Claire Squires, 30, was hoping to beat her previous marathon time and finish in under four hours but suffered a seizure and collapsed unconscious to the ground just a mile from the end of the 16-mile race through the capital, in April, last year.
Southwark Coroner’s Court today heard the hairdresser had taken health supplement Jack3d, which was banned in Britain last August, after the marathon.
Keen runner Claire added “one scoop” on Jack3d in the water bottle she ran with on the day of the race, the inquest was told.
The fitness fanatic had also made use of the ‘energy booster’ on two or three occasions during the weeks leading up to the race.
The inquest also heard Claire had continued with her preparations for the race despite being told by an acupuncturist she had an irregular heartbeat.
Claire’s boyfriend of two-and-a-half years Simon Van Herrewege, 31, told the inquest Claire “knew what she was doing.”
The health and social carer for a nursing home company said: “She knew what she was doing. She was very active.
“She exercised at last five times a week. She had been training as she normally would. She would go to the gym. Or I would go out on the bike and she would run. She would take the dogs.
“For the marathon she built up the distances. She would regularly run with her sister. She knew what she was doing.”
When asked about Jack3d 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.”
The inquest heard the London Ambulance Service motorcycle response paramedic was delayed getting to the scene.
Paramedic Richard Stevens told the inquest he had bad signal on his radio and was sent to the treatment centre rather than where Claire had collapsed.
He said: “I could not hear the message, I could only hear static.”
Mr Stevens added: “On scene I had good signal.”
Tragic Claire, from North Kilworth, Leicestershire, was on course for her personal best time of three hours 51 minutes when she collapsed.
She had planned to run the 226.2 mile course to raise money for the Samaritans in honour of her brother Grant who died from a drug overdose in 2001 aged just 25.
But she collapsed and became the 11th runner to die in the London Marathon since the even began in 1981.
The inquest heard Claire had been to see an acupuncturist who said that she had an irregular heart beat.
Mr Van Herrewege said: “She would try these things.
“She was a very healthy girl. If there was anything wrong with her she would have gone to the doctors.
“When she went for acupuncture I knew she had gone. But she did not say anything (about heart problems).”
The inquest was told Claire has no medical history of illness.
Despite the acupuncturist saying Claire had an irregular heart beat, her GP said she had not reported this to him, in evidence he submitted in writing.
In a statement read by the coroner, the doctor said: “I can confirm that she did not consult with me with regard to an irregular heart beat.”
She had set herself a fundraising target of £500 for the Samaritans, but the total jumped to more than £1 million following a public outpouring of support after her death.
Famous faces including Virgin businessman Richard Branson, Dragon’s Den star Peter Jones and singer Alesha Dixon have all contributed.
Claire raised £1,886 for the Children’s Society by completing the 2010 London Marathon, and in 2011 raised £1,430 for the RAF Association by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
Claire was buried in a shared grave alongside her beloved older brother, who was found dead a few days after surviving a car crash in which his girlfriend was killed.
Jack3D was banned in August, 2012, over fears it could cause lethal side-effects.
The drink contains a stimulant known as DMAA – or dimethylamylamine – that is alleged to cause high blood pressure, vomiting, headaches, stroke and even death.
The UK’s medicines watchdog Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) ruled the product was unlicensed – along with any other products containing the DMAA stimulant.
The UK ban followed similar rulings in the US and Australia, where a man died after buying DMAA online.
Jack3d is claimed to boost energy, concentration and metabolism but, according to the MHRA, the DMAA it contains can narrow the arteries and raise the heart rate.
The stimulant was reportedly the most popular sports supplement in the country before being banned – allowing users to work out for longer.