A fundraiser paralysed from the chest down has completed her “toughest challenge to date” as she walked the 10-mile Great South Run in 24 hours with the help of a bionic suit.
Claire Lomas, who broke her back in a horse-riding accident in 2007, has raised over £575,000 for charity through a number of gruelling endurance events, and became the first person to complete a marathon in her revolutionary Rewalk Suit – a robotic exoskeleton which enables her to walk.
In her latest challenge, Ms Lomas continued throughout the day and night without sleep to walk the race in Portsmouth with the aid of the suit and a pair of crutches.
She was met with cheers and applause as she crossed the line, having posted regular updates on Twitter as she battled wind and rain.
Ms Lomas told the Press Association she was overwhelmed with emotion as she crossed the finish line, to be met by her two daughters Maisie, five, and Chloe, nine months.
She said the fact this was her first long-distance race without stopping meant “it was a little bit unknown” whether she could finish, and added that she was “really grateful to everyone that supported me…. I had a few tears.”
“I’m tired but I’m still buzzing from the support. Hopefully, I’ll get a good night’s sleep,” she said as she rested following the event.
At the half way stage, Ms Lomas, from Eye Kettleby, near Melton Mowbray, showed she was keeping in high spirits as she posted a video of herself singing Bon Jovi’s Livin’ On A Prayer.
And she revealed the exhausting effects of the race with a mile to go when she tweeted: “Help me get to last mile as sooo tired.”
Her effort has so far raised more than £4,000 for the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation.
Ms Lomas, 37, collected an MBE from the Duke of Cambridge earlier in February, just weeks after giving birth to her second daughter.
After collecting her award at the time, she said: “My accident was 10 years ago in May.
“When I think back to that first year or two I would have loved for someone to tell me what the future had in store – back then, everything felt so bleak with so many dark days.
“I forced myself to take small opportunities and it has led on to bigger things. It has taken a lot of small little steps to get here.”