May 8th, 2012
07:21 PM ET

Paralyzed woman finishes marathon 16 days after start

A 32-year-old paraplegic woman using a robotic walking suit has completed the London Marathon, 16 days after the event began.

Hundreds of onlookers cheered a tearful Claire Lomas on Tuesday afternoon as she crossed the finish line on The Mall in central London, The Sun reported.

Lomas, who was paralyzed from the chest down in a 2007 horse-riding accident, walked the 26.2-mile course using crutches and a £43,000 ($69,500) suit that uses motion sensors to help her move her legs. When Lomas shifts her balance, the ReWalk machine moves her joints forward, allowing her to take a step, the BBC reported.

Lomas, of Eye Kettleby, England, averaged more than 1.5 miles per day since the marathon began on April 22, following the official route. She stayed at a hotel at night and was driven to the spot where she stopped the day before, according to the BBC. Her husband, Dan Spicer, accompanied her the whole way, and her parents and 1-year-old daughter also were with her for parts of the walk.

"The support has been breathtaking, and it feels fantastic to finally finish,"  she said, according to The Sun. “I really didn’t expect this and I can’t quite believe it’s all for me. Everyone has been so supportive and I couldn’t have done it without them."

Lomas was walking, in part, to raise money for Spinal Research, a British charity that funds medical research to develop paralysis treatments. As of Tuesday evening, she had raised more than £105,000 ($169,600) online.

The marathon did not award her a medal, citing a rule that participants must finish on the day the event started. But publicity prompted 15 participants to donate their medals to her, the BBC reported.

Also, a daughter of Virgin Group chief Sir Richard Branson gave Lomas a Virgin trophy for endurance, according to The Sun. Virgin sponsors the race.

"It was so emotional when she crossed that line," Holly Branson said, according to The Sun. "Tears welled up in my eyes, and everyone was cheering."

Lomas' donation page links to a YouTube video showing what she says is an early training session with the walking suit. She wrote that she got the suit with the help of  fundraising efforts by friends and others.

On the last mile of Lomas' walk, the crowd became silent as she paused in a mark of respect at the location where one of the London Marathon runners, 30-year-old Claire Squires, collapsed and died on April 22, The Sun reported.

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soundoff (71 Responses)
  1. Q

    great job !! I do not think people understand how hard this goal was for her.But I do being a quad c 4 5 its a nightmare that you live with everyday.she had help so what thank God for the help she still finished the race !
    I play golf and walk 9 or 18 holes I use a pull cart to help me walk the golf course I could not walk when I first
    started but I can now.This was her first time she did great and next time she will get faster but speed is not the point . she can play golf with me anytime she gets ready .Never give up or quit great job.USMC VET Q

    May 9, 2012 at 11:21 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Chuck

      Wonderful story. I appreciate her hard work and determination and her family's love and support. The sky fairy (whichever god you speak of) deserves no credit at all.

      May 10, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • don

      I COULD DO IT IN 15 DAYS

      May 10, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Greenspam

    It looks like she's walking at about 1mph? So how come she's only walking 2 miles a day? Is she walking only for 2 hours a day or something?

    May 9, 2012 at 11:27 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Taylor

      why don't you lose the use of half of your body then get back to us on how long this took

      May 9, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sherry R

    wow...just...WOW! well done. brought tears to my eyes.

    May 9, 2012 at 11:29 am | Report abuse | Reply
  4. WOWed

    This is inspiring, keep going ... you have proved that bodily disability has nothing to do with the spirit ... it can keep soaring ...

    May 9, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. walstonc59

    Awesome job! How inspiring....she should be so proud of herself, she could have given up, but didn't...way to go!!!

    May 9, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. me

    Cheers, Claire! Outstanding! Love from the States!

    May 9, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Kriss Greenn

    Just one great story of over coming hardship! This has made my day just a little better :-)

    May 10, 2012 at 7:55 am | Report abuse | Reply
  8. TriXen

    Amazing!!! Now THAT is determination.

    May 10, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Chris Davis

    As a fellow runner lucky enough to have a fully-functional body, I sometimes find myself getting whiny when the alarm goes off in the morning to go pound the roads. Stories like this give me a much-needed kick in the rump to remind me of the adage I saw on a poser: "The race is not just for the swift, but for those who keep moving ahead." Talk about guts...

    May 11, 2012 at 8:51 am | Report abuse | Reply
  10. jack

    Great work, congratulations!!!

    May 11, 2012 at 10:15 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. umm

    So a woman in a robotic walking apparatus was carried 26 miles.

    May 11, 2012 at 11:11 am | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Beep234

    Don't you get it champ? You inspire the world and they love every square inch of you for it!

    May 11, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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