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. pepsee

    I hope this lady will be an inspiration to the couch potatoes.

    May 8, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. couch potatoe

    She is an inspiration..I vow to blog for 26 straight hours... .

    May 8, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. William

    Congrats to her for finishing. What an accomplishment. I just saw a show about these suits not long ago and this lady was in it. It was amazing to see her walking around all over the place. The crutches only help to provide a bit of balance but she can actually walk without them. What a great thing that will help people that are paralyzed on so many levels.

    May 8, 2012 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jubril

    God bless her

    May 9, 2012 at 12:08 am | Report abuse |
  5. jewelgirl

    Amazing...God Bless

    May 9, 2012 at 12:15 am | Report abuse |
  6. Fil

    That lovely woman just made my day.....

    May 9, 2012 at 12:21 am | Report abuse |
  7. Ms B

    What a wonderful thing to read. May God continue to bless you in all you do.

    May 9, 2012 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |
  8. Edwin

    I am as impressed with her perseverance as most of the posters here, but I tend to agree with the marathon's ruling about the medal. What she accomplished was inspirational and newsworthy, but it really wasn't a marathon.

    Regardless, I'm glad she raised all that money for research and didn't give up. Going back day after day is physically and emotionally draining - I'm not sure I could do it.

    May 9, 2012 at 1:48 am | Report abuse |
    • justmeanddog

      As someone who participated in and finished a Half Marathon 5 years after undergoing a double heart bypass I respectfully disagree with you contention that it “wasn’t really a Marathon”. The completion of a Marathon is looked upon as an example of an individual’s supreme commitment to a achieving a goal requiring all of the physical and mental endurance that they can bring to bear. For an average person with average physical and mental capabilities they are expected to complete the task in something fewer than 12 hours or one day. There is no “book of rules” setting out the time required for a paralyzed individual to complete the task, since it was thought to be an impossibility before this lady made the attempt. Hence I put it to you that she has now written and therefore established the official time to beat for persons in her physical condition to beat. Congratulation madam you are indeed a gutsy pioneer. What you have achieved will stay with you and yours long after many of the medals of other participants lie forgotten in the back of some desk drawer.

      May 9, 2012 at 7:59 am | Report abuse |
  9. Torok Maktu

    That's a HECK of a distance even for non paralyzed. Good for her. Determination pays off.

    May 9, 2012 at 2:00 am | Report abuse |
  10. Superman

    Right on girl!!! Theres no more excuses left for they lazy population of this country,,,now get off the couch and do something with yourselfes lazies

    May 9, 2012 at 2:19 am | Report abuse |
  11. sam

    And they try to trip her at the end? That is just mean.

    But seriously, what a great accomplishment. Quite the moving story I must say. It's funny how archaic these robot legs will someday (hopefully soon) seem when they come out with super sweet technology for paraplegics etc 🙂

    May 9, 2012 at 2:35 am | Report abuse |
  12. Marney

    Good girl!

    May 9, 2012 at 3:22 am | Report abuse |
  13. raven

    And look! The Electric Horseman is there to greet her at the finish line.Hes a rhinestone cowboooy dah DUN.....

    May 9, 2012 at 3:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Pete

      He's a rhinestone cowboooy dah DUN.....
      No they not cowboys they are Pearly Kings and Queens. A rather colourful London fund raising tradition.

      May 9, 2012 at 4:27 am | Report abuse |
  14. No one

    Well done.
    Is this shall we say, a small step to robotic armor and other sci-fi stuff?

    May 9, 2012 at 3:46 am | Report abuse |
  15. starr1999

    some of these gadets have been around for yrs,i have been para since 1986 was called a complete injury went home put a rope above my bed and worked my legs got both working but not well enough to walk,one leg could move to knee right leg worked to calf,my feet have always had a numbing felling,i can feel both legs to ankles well that was until a hick hosptial where i live and stupid dr when i went in had told them had fallen out chair and my hip hurt was held there 3 months,him pumping the wrong antibiotics into mehim having me xrayed 5-6 times over the 3 months i was there i was slowly dieing,it took nurses to catch few of my family members in a local store to tell them the dr was killing me,that i needed to be sent to okc to a better placeby the time i was sent their my hip was sponge and all the small blood vessels in leg had exploded,had also spread to my left side pelvic,there was only one bone dr there that had performed a hemipelvictomy during vietnam,i had a choice go home to die or have half my pelvic and whole leg cut off,then have a strip of meat taken off other let to graft over the surgery site,i chose home my wife told me if i went home she wouldnt stay she was a quad herself,so i had no choice i still feel my left leg and at times the phantom pains so bad its like i just had the hemipelvictomy again,i applied earlier for being a test subject yrs ago and never heard a word back,im certainly glad now they are helping some people,sometimes "having the mula" helps,all aside prayers for this lady and her family!

    May 9, 2012 at 4:54 am | Report abuse |
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