Paralysed marathon entrant crosses finishing line after 16 days

Claire Lomas approaches the finish of the London Marathon, 16 days after the race began.
Claire Lomas approaches the finish of the London Marathon, 16 days after the race began.
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SHE was not the quickest but few among the 36,000 runners in the London Marathon can have showed as much courage as Claire Lomas, who crossed the finish line yesterday 16 days after the race began.

Claire Lomas, who is paralysed from the chest down, became the first person to complete a marathon in a ReWalk “bionic” suit.

The 32-year-old event rider, injured in a riding accident five years ago, will not appear in the official results and did not receive a medal when she finished as competitors have to complete the course on the same day to qualify, organisers said.

But other runners came forward to donate their own medals, because as one, Jacqui Rose, from Southampton, put it: “She has epitomised what I thought the London Marathon was all about.”

Ms Lomas, mother of 13-month-old Maisie, was also handed the race sponsors’ Virgin’s trophy for endurance by Holly Branson, daughter of tycoon Richard.

The jewellery designer, from Eye Kettleby, near Melton Mowbray, had trained with the £43,000 revolutionary system, which she likens to Wallace and Gromit’s “wrong trousers”, at Cyclone Technologies at Ottringham, near Hull.

Ms Lomas said she was “over the moon” to have finished and revealed there were times she thought she could not carry on.

But she added: “I have had tremendous support since my accident which I am so grateful for, some don’t have that. Some people lose the use of their arms as well. A cure needs to be found.”

She walked about two miles a day, cheered on by friends and family and wellwishers, and raised more than £86,000 for Spinal Research.

Ms Lomas said she is now going to write a book.