Completing a marathon is a remarkable challenge for anyone! But to do it paralysed from the waist down – like Claire Lomas is truly remarkable.
Claire became paralysed after a horse riding accident, but she wouldn’t let this stand in her way. The 32-year-old, who has a spinal injury, crossed the finish line at 12.50 on Tuesday after 16 days. Thanks t a pair or robotic legs which have allowed her to walk again.
“It’s a moment I am going to treasure for the rest of my life” She told the BBC.
Claire’s efforts have raised over 83,000 for spinal research, a charity which funds medical research to develop treatments for paralysis.
While the majority of people that participate in the marathon finish within a few hours. Claire knew that it would take her weeks, as she could only complete a mile a day. Although her speed increased as the days passed, she stayed in a hotel at night and travels by car to the point she left off the evening before. Before the final leg of her 26 mile route, friends and family supporters gathered outside St Stephens Tavern in Westminster to cheer her on. Claire assumed that this was just a busy day in London, but in fact people were there just to support Claire. Because the amazing level of support Claire said that the last half mile was pretty easy to walk.
Claire said that the marathon had been very difficult, both physically and mentally, but the support of the people kept her going. Unfortunately because of the rule changes this year Claire was unable to qualify for a medal. However, Olympic rowing champion Sir Matthew Pinset launched a Twitter campaign to get her one, 15 participants donated their medals in recognition of her achievements. Claire has raised enough money to fund a three year research project into the treatment for paralysis.
The riding accident left her paralysed from the chest down, but her sporting background gave her determination she needed to get back on her feet again. For the past 3 months Claire has trained intensively for the marathon using a robotic walking suit with a system of motion sensors which allow her to detect and control movement. When she shifts balance, the suit triggers her joints to move forward enabling her to take a step.
This story is so remarkable, and I hope it motivates others to get out there and get walking and running to keep active, once they have seen what a paralysed woman can achieve. It’s important to make the most of life and to keep as healthy and fit as possible, because no one knows what is around the corner.
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