First aiders and emergency services at the Great North Run struggled to cope as four competitors collapsed and died within an hour of each other and all less than three miles from the finish, an inquest heard yesterday.
The coroner heard evidence that ambulances took up to 45 minutes to reach the men, while volunteers and helpers fought in vain to keep them alive.
The families of 52-year-old deputy head Phil Lewis, 43-year-old civil engineer David Mahaffey, businessman Kieran Patching, who was 34, and 28-year-old director Reuben Wilson said they were all dedicated runners, keen to perform well in the famous 13.1 mile half-marathon, between Newcastle and South Shields.
Relatives told Gateshead and South Tyneside Coroner Terrence Carney that the men were well prepared and enthusiastic about the race.
Mr Wilson, from Leeds, was the youngest to die on the unusually warm September day when temperatures reached 18C.
He was running the race with his sister Naomi Bradbourne.
An ambulance arrived around 45 minutes after he collapsed and took him to South Tyneside General Hospital. The five-day hearing continues.