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. Kween

    Amazing! May God bless you abundantly!

    May 9, 2012 at 6:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Typical, When an innocent person loses the ability to walk it's fate, but when she works hard to redeem herself, it's god.

      May 9, 2012 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  2. winwin

    way to go girl... you have inspire me... you are the best... keep up the good work... i just said a prayer for you... asking that you get the strength to continue on.... way to go girl, you are the best...

    May 9, 2012 at 6:38 am | Report abuse |
  3. veteran

    If only the occupyers had her drive,mayby they could find a job instead of wanting everything handed to them.Great job girl you should be a inspiration for everybody!

    May 9, 2012 at 7:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Noocrat

      What is military service if not a guaranteed job with almost not relevant or challenging prerequisites? 18 and a GED, impressive.

      May 9, 2012 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  4. larry5

    Finishing just one marathon can change your life. For those that don't know there is know explanation. For those that do know there is no explanation necessary.

    May 9, 2012 at 7:44 am | Report abuse |
  5. db

    Inspiration against all the odds. Today we need dreams, goals, and drive to keep going.

    May 9, 2012 at 7:48 am | Report abuse |
  6. Really Jersey

    Congratulations Clair, from your well wishers in America. Tenacity is an admirably quality that this lady obviously has in abundance.

    May 9, 2012 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
  7. human 1st

    Congratulations..anything is possible if you put your mind into it .. God bless you 🙂

    May 9, 2012 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
  8. mizh

    Way to go, Claire Lomas! I'm so proud of you and know only good things will come your way. Bless you.

    May 9, 2012 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
  9. KR

    No, she did NOT finish it on her own – she was carried by someone – it is a big difference!

    May 9, 2012 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Lu Ann

      You know what KR – that woman got to the point by walking – what makes the difference if she walked, was carried, flew over the finish line. You missed the entire point – are you always so cynical??

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

    its a good thing a parapolegic had a kid i am sure she will be a great mom...

    May 9, 2012 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
  11. Scott

    16 days? She finished in 16 DAYS?? holy crap...she crushed my time, i wish i could finish in 16 days.

    congrats on that achievement, that's amazing!

    May 9, 2012 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
  12. PeterD

    I do not know It is good or sad.

    May 9, 2012 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
  13. BOMBO ©

    I'm faster than that.

    May 9, 2012 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |

    STOP AT NEVER – Great job Claire. Congratulations to you and your support team family.

    May 9, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  15. Anita

    Now this is the kind of story I wish we would hear more of! Thanks, Claire, for inspiring us all. God bless you.

    May 9, 2012 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
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