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Two runners die in North Carolina half-marathon

By Kevin Murphy

(Reuters) - Two runners competing in a half-marathon in Raleigh, North Carolina, collapsed and died on Sunday, officials said.

The runners were among some 12,000 participants in the race, one in a series of half and full Rock'n'Roll marathons held across the United States and abroad but for the first time in Raleigh, said Dan Cruz, spokesman for the marathon series.

Details on the deaths were still being gathered, but one runner apparently collapsed near the finish line and the other further back on the 13.1-mile (21-km) course, Cruz said.

The race continued, he said.

At least one of the runners who died was a man but no other information was available, Cruz said.

Sunday was warm in Raleigh, with temperatures climbing into the high 70s (mid 20 C) by early afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.

"This is a tragic end to a successful week," Cruz said. "It's sad for all parties involved."

The deaths were confirmed in a statement by marathon medical director P.Z. Pearce. He did not cite the causes of death.

"We are greatly saddened by these tragic losses and our prayers go out to the each of the runner's family and friends," Pearce said. "We have spoken with each of the families and they have asked everyone to kindly respect their privacy during this most difficult of times."

(Reporting by Kevin Murphy; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Sandra Maler)

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