'Bionic' woman Claire Lomas completes Great North Run

A paralysed woman wearing a “bionic” suit has completed the Great North Run, five days after she started it.

Claire Lomas, from Leicestershire, was paralysed from the chest down in a riding accident in 2007.

She began the half marathon, which runs from Newcastle to South Shields, on Wednesday and crossed the finish line at about 10:00 BST.

The 36-year-old, who is 16 weeks pregnant, said she was “over the moon” to finish the run.

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Mrs Lomas has no feeling below her chest and used a ReWalk robotic exoskeleton, which relies on motion sensors to help her move and lift her legs to walk the route.


How the ‘ReWalk’ suit works

  • Lightweight braces support the legs and brace motors help rotate joints
  • Feet sensors detect when weight is lifted
  • Motion sensors on the hips detect movement
  • Upper body sensors allow users to control movement
  • Suit is powered by a backpack containing an 8-hour battery
  • Users rely on crutches to maintain balance

Speaking to BBC Women’s Hour before the Great North Run she said even standing in the suit was challenging.

“It’s taken some learning. It’s not just physical work, it’s the concentration with every step,” she said.

“It doesn’t just walk for me. I have to use the parts that aren’t paralysed to make it walk.”

Morning sickness

She walked about three miles a day with the help of her husband Dan and was met at the finish line by her five-year-old daughter Maisie.

She said she had struggled to train because of morning sickness which meant there were times when she did not think she would make it to the start.

Other problems were caused by the heat, hills on the course and injuries caused by straps on her suit.

“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 said.

In 2012, Mrs Lomas completed the London Marathon in last place, inspiring many people with her courage and determination.

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BBC Sport – Athletics

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