CLAIRE LOMAS

THE IN­SPI­RA­TION

Runner's World (UK) - - Heroes -

A BRIT WAS FIRST across the line at the Great North Run last year and no, it wasn’t Mo. Be­fore the elites, wheel­chair rac­ers and fun run­ners streaked along the South Shields seafront on Septem­ber 11, 36-yearold Claire Lomas was lap­ping up the cheers of thou­sands as she crossed the line – five days af­ter she set off.

Lomas, who was left paral­ysed from the chest down in a 2007 horse-rid­ing ac­ci­dent, started her mon­u­men­tal ef­fort on Wed­nes­day, Septem­ber 7, and cov­ered a lit­tle over three miles a day, sheathed in­side a ro­botic ex­oskele­ton re­walk suit, and us­ing the work­ing mus­cles she did have to trig­ger the mo­tion sen­sors re­quired to get the suit to move. The go­ing was ex­tremely slow (it took her four hours to com­plete the first mile) and painful, with chaf­ing, tem­per­a­ture reg­u­la­tion, hills and fa­tigue among the is­sues she had to deal with. And if that wasn’t enough, Lomas was also 16 weeks preg­nant with her sec­ond child.

‘I had quite a lot of morn­ing sick­ness in train­ing so I didn’t have the lead-up I wanted – I didn’t get much sleep along the way, ei­ther – but I re­ally did not want to lose this op­por­tu­nity,’ she says. ‘There were times when I thought I was go­ing to quit, but I’m so glad I made it.’

Lomas’s hus­band, Dan, walked ev­ery step of the way with her and each day the pair stopped at schools along the route to talk to pupils about her bat­tle to over­come her in­juries and about spinal in­jury re­search – to date Lomas has raised around £560,000 for the Ni­cholls Spinal In­jury Foun­da­tion.

As well as cap­tur­ing the hearts of the na­tion, it’s fit­ting that Lomas drew praise from another of our Heroes, Mo Farah. ‘It’s pretty amaz­ing,’ he said when she fin­ished the race. ‘ What she went through, and then to finish the Great North Run. I want to con­grat­u­late her – this is what the Great North Run needs. To have the courage to be able to com­pete is amaz­ing.’ We couldn’t agree more.

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