Posted on Mon, Mar. 27, 2006 Runner collapses, dies in 10K raceWALNUT CREEK MAN WORKED AT NEWSPAPERBy Julie Sevrens LyonsMercury NewsGeorge Vanner, a Walnut Creek resident and avid runner, collapsed and died while participating in the Mercury News 10K race Sunday. Vanner, 57, was an information technology manager with the Contra Costa Times newspaper, where he had been employed for more than two decades. ``He's one of the people who was well known and well regarded by everyone there, and the kind of person in any situation who was always willing to help out,'' said former Times Publisher George Riggs, now the publisher of the Mercury News. ``George has been at my house more times than I can count,'' said Riggs, who still supervises the Times' operations. ``He's been there to help for computer problems; he's been there for Christmas parties. He's part of the glue that held the Contra Costa Times together.'' Vanner had completed the 6.2-mile Mercury News race the previous year and also enjoyed step aerobics. Friends were stunned that the active and affable father of two may have suffered a massive heart attack. An autopsy will be performed early this week to help determine his cause of death. ``I used to make fun of him because I'm the worst couch potato and eat junk food. He was very fit -- running, aerobics, the conventional taking care of yourself,'' said Mona Hatfield, IT director at the Times. Vanner's girlfriend, Ann Comey, called Hatfield with the news of his death, saying that he collapsed mid-race and that paramedics weren't able to revive him. Vanner, who wore cowboy boots almost every day and could be seen eating breakfast or lunch with his crew of computer technicians, was known for never letting a problem go unsolved. He helped people troubleshoot the minutiae of the day while fixing glitches. He leaves behind two sons, Gregory, 19, and Benjamin, 14. He doted on the boys, who live in Dublin, and attended lacrosse and soccer games regardless of the weather. ``He was such a kind and giving person,'' said his former wife, Kim Vanner.