WARM weather has been blamed for the deaths of four competitors who collapsed during the 25th Great North Run.
The male victims - the highest death toll since the race was first launched - were among around 50,000 people running the 13-mile course from Newcastle, across the famous Tyne bridge to Gateshead and on to South Shields in a bid to raise up to £10 million for good causes.
Ambulance officials said that the only factor they could put yesterday's deaths down to was the "warm weather and sunshine" as medical staff reported a higher number of casualties than in previous years.
A Northumbria Police spokesman said: "I can confirm four male participants in the race have died, which is more than the usual one or two - but every year more people are taking part."
North East Ambulance Service, the British Red Cross and St John Ambulance all provided medical assistance for the event.
A North East Ambulance Service spokesman said it was "unusual" to have four fatalities in one run.
"The only thing we can put it down to is the warm weather and the sunshine."
A spokesman for the run's organisers, Nova International, said: "We would like to express our deepest sympathy and sorrow for their families."