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Autopsy inconclusive for man who died running Chicago Marathon

In this undated phoprovided by City Greensboro Fire Department Support Services Greensboro firefighter Capt. William Caviness poses for photo. Caviness

In this undated photo provided by the City of Greensboro Fire Department Support Services, Greensboro firefighter Capt. William Caviness poses for a photo. Caviness collapsed 500 yards from the Chicago Marathon's finish line Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011. Paramedics were able to get his heart beating again, but he was pronounced dead shortly after. (AP Photo/City of Greensboro Fire Department Support Services)

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Updated: November 16, 2011 12:14PM

Relatives of a North Carolina firefighter who died after collapsing during the Chicago Marathon will have to wait to learn what caused his death after an autopsy Monday proved inconclusive.

Father-of-two Will Caviness, 35, was just 500 yards from the finish line of the 26.2 mile race when he collapsed Sunday.

Caviness’s devastated father, Lee Caviness, said Monday his fun-loving son was “a great athlete and a picture of health.”

But the results of further toxicological tests are needed before a cause of death can be determined, according to the medical examiner’s office.

Caviness was the first runner to die in the Chicago marathon since 2007. An experienced marathon runner, he was on pace to complete Sunday’s race in a time close to the 3 hour 17 minute time he recorded in last year’s Outer Banks Marathon in North Carolina.

The charity he was raising funds for — the International Association of Fire Fighters Burns Foundation — has continued to receive donations in his honor since his death, more than doubling the $2,000 he’d aimed to raise. “He was a great son, father, husband and firefighter,” his dad said. “We’re in shock.”

Caviness’s brother Sean — also a firefighter in Greensboro, North Carolina — and his wife, Jenny, were in Chicago for the race and are getting “great support from Chicago firefighters,” Lee Caviness said.

As a retired police officer with two sons in the fire department, “I knew that anything could happen to them at any time, but I didn’t expect it to happen like this,” he added.

Caviness leaves a son, Jack, 4, and a daughter Caroline, 11 months,

Firefighters in his hometown have set up a tribute to him at their firehouse, and his crew was riding Monday with a name plate on the seat where he normally sat in the fire engine.

His uncle Bill Caviness said his nephew was a prankster who enjoyed playing practical jokes on his in-laws. “Will had those outlandish Christmas decorations all over his house — like the Griswolds,” he said, referring to the Chevy Chase movie, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

“His mother in-law is a very classy lady, so she didn’t approve, but when she was on vacation he snuck up onto her roof and installed a giant blow-up decoration,” he recalled with a laugh.

“We’re all in disbelief.”

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