‘Bionic’ woman in exoskeleton first to complete half marathon

Claire Lomas
Claire Lomas

A pregnant mother who was paralysed in a horse riding accident was the first person to cross the Great North Run finish line after using a "bionic suit" to complete the famous half marathon.

Claire Lomas, 36, has no feeling below her chest, set off on Wednesday and used a ReWalk robotic exoskeleton to complete the Newcastle to South Shields course.

She walked three miles a day, step by laborious step, with the help of her husband Dan and cheered on at the finish line by five-year-old daughter Maisie.

The fundraiser from Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, is 16 weeks pregnant and struggled to train ahead of the gruelling event due to morning sickness.

She was cheered for the last mile of the course on Sunday morning, crossing the finish line before the elite male runners, including double Olympic champion Mo Farah, had started.

Claire said: "There were times I was not sure I would make it here."

She battled the heat, the hilly course and sores caused by straps from her suit rubbing, which needed a trip to A&E for a dressing.

She added: "I had quite a lot of morning sickness. I didn't have the lead up I wanted, but I really did not want to lose this opportunity."

She was delighted with being first across the line, saying: "I never win anything.

"It's incredible, now I can watch everyone else and see if Mo Farah can win it."

Since her accident nine years ago, Ms Lomas has raised more than £500,000 for the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation.

She visited schools along the route to speak to children about her fight to overcome the injuries she suffered nine years ago.

There were warm conditions for the 57,000 people registered to take part in the famous race which attracts everyone from the world's top distance athletes to fun runners of all shapes and sizes.

Mo Farah's wife Tania was among them, taking part for the first time having taken tips from him on not rushing at the start.

Organisers managed to attract competitors from 177 of the 193 UN-registered countries in the world.