Paralysed equestrian Claire Lomas began the London Marathon with 36,000 other entrants. Today, 16 days later, she crossed the finish line to complete a remarkable feat of endurance.
Lomas, paralysed from the chest down, methodically took 80,000 assisted steps in a robotic suit to complete the 26.2-mile marathon course.
The race officials and road cones were long gone, but Lomas, determined to raise funds for the charity, Spinal Research, toughed out the course in her £43,000 ReWalk suit, designed by Israeli entrepreneur Amit Goffer.
The special suit allows paralysed individuals to stand, walk and climb stairs, using motion sensors and an onboard computer system.
Lomas, 32, a former chiropractor from Eye Kettleby, near Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, shed tears of joy as hundreds cheered her on as she made her way to the finish line.
A guard of honour from three mounted members of the Household Cavalry was testament to the courageous efforts of Lomas, who is a now a jewellery designer.
Lomas is not eligible for the official race medal because rules stipulate competitors must finish the course on the same day.
However, it is understood a dozen runners have given her their medals to recognise her feat.
Holly Branson, daughter of Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, whose company supports the marathon, was on hand to present Lomas with the Virgin trophy, handed out annually to men and women who went that extra mile and challenged themselves beyond normal human limitations.
Her jubilant supporters fell silent when Lomas paused at the spot, marked by floral tributes, where another marathon entrant, Claire Squires, collapsed and died within a mile of the finish.
Lomas suffered her spinal injury in the Osberton Horse Trials, in Nottinghamshire, in 2007.
She broke her neck, back and ribs and punctured a lung in a collision with a tree.
Her husband Dan Spicer, 37, walked the marathon with her. She was joined also by her mother and father, Joyce and Martin, and one-year-old daughter Maisie for much of the route. A stream of celebrities also joined her for stretches of the course.
Her marathon efforts raised more than £86,000 for Spinal Research.
» No marathon medal for Claire Lomas? Don’t bet on it
» Claire Lomas steps past 18.8-mile mark in marathon
» Claire steps out in a truly marathon effort (and video)
» Lomas crosses Tower Bridge in marathon walk
Links of interest:
Suit maker: www.argomedtec.com
Or text@ 70070 with LEGS60 £(amount)