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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Filed under: Sports • United Kingdom
soundoff (71 Responses)
  1. Billy Jack

    What nonsense

    May 8, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vickie

      It would not be nonsense if it were you who was could not walk.

      May 8, 2012 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andy in Oz

      I would respectfully suggest that it is more nonsensical that you would leave such an idiotic comment.

      May 9, 2012 at 4:24 am | Report abuse |
  2. Hunter

    Bravo, well done Claire!

    May 8, 2012 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. MichelleElaine

    NOT nonsense.

    May 8, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  4. banasy©

    Absolutely amazing.
    Her spirit speaks volumes.

    May 8, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Dimitri

    great story.

    May 8, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. djjumper

    Obviously the Real winner wasn't the one who came in first.
    This time, the Real Winner came in last. Congrats Claire!

    May 8, 2012 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Brad

    Congrats! you are an inspiration!

    May 8, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. djjumper

    Billy Jack, the only Nonsense here is that you even bothered to comment. She entered, and completed the Marathon. Did you??? I think not.

    May 8, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. bobcat (in a hat) ©

    Finally an uplifting story. Just think about that moment for her. It is unimaginable, the joy she had to be feeling as she crossed that line. Congratualtions Claire.

    May 8, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Nila

    That is great, but at what point does it stop being a marathon. 16 day means she stopped to eat and sleep so there was no matarathon. She walked 26.2 Miles in 16 days. Remakable but in this case the word maraton is just hyperbole.

    May 8, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Beat me to it, bc.

      May 8, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Toastie

      You have no idea what you're talking about. I doubt any paraplegic has ever walked 1.5 miles in a day, let alone for 16 straight days.

      May 8, 2012 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • diego homans

      Gee, you're a buzzkill.

      May 9, 2012 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |
  11. bobcat (in a hat) ©

    @ Nila

    Consider it this way. Claire has been a quadraplegic since 2007. Every step she was able to take had to feel like a marathon to her. Her spirit alone says it all. She is a true winner.

    May 8, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Nila

    Bobcat,

    By all means it is a true winner but she won much more than a marathon. The word marathon, decathalon or even triathalon, does not come even close to what she won. To do what she did for 16 days is awe inspiring. In any case it is not "none sense".

    May 8, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobcat (in a hat) ©

      I didn't say it was nonsense.

      May 8, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Odin

    the only thing more amazing than the technology is the woman using it

    May 8, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  14. cpc65

    And the blind runner is still missing.

    May 8, 2012 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Snotty Kid

    Sad to happen to such a beautiful woman. She will never be able to experience an orgasm.

    May 8, 2012 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
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