Claire Lomas prepares for very different London Marathon challenge
Almost a decade after her life changed forever when she completed the London Marathon in a pioneering robotic suit in 17 days, Claire Lomas makes a poignant return to the event on Sunday.
But this time things will be very different for the Eye Kettleby woman, who has raised more than £750,000 for spinal research since being left paralysed from the chest down following a devastating horse riding accident in May 2007.
Claire has ditched the suit and will instead be covering the 26-mile course by pushing herself around the capital in a conventional wheelchair while dressed in motorcycle leathers and helmet.
And she aims to do it in just a day this time, with an aim of raising money this time for the Whizz-Kidz charity, which helps disabled children get mobility equipment.
Claire told the Melton Times this week: “It’s 50/50 as to whether I can do it in a day, to be honest.
“If I wasn’t in the leathers I would manage it fine.
“Unfortunately the weather forecast for Sunday is wet and windy - leather isn’t waterproof and rain soaks in a bit so it becomes even heavier and horrible.
“It won’t be easy but that’s what a challenge is.”
Claire made headlines around the world with her remarkable efforts at the 2012 London Marathon and her raised profile and further gruelling fundraising events led to a new career as a motivational speaker and the award of an MBE.
This year’s event could be just as challenging, however, as Claire faces a personal race against time to finish while the course infrastructure is still in place.
“My big aim is to stay ahead of the roads being opened up again because once I get on to pavements I will then take a long time,” she explained.
“Because it will be pretty horrendous with the ups and downs on the pavement and crossing the road if they are open to traffic while I’m still out there.”
Claire has been training up to 20 miles a day to prepare, completing numerous trips back and forth along the drive at her home.
She is hoping to get a medal this time after missing out on being presented with one back in 2012 because of a rule that competitors had to finish on the day it started.
Olympic rowing champion Matthew Pinsent famously appealed on social media when he heard and runners donated 18 miles to Claire in recognition of what she achieved.
“It’s going to be very strange as well because I am going back to a place where I’ve got so many memories,” said Claire.
“The London Marathon changed my career, it changed so many things and it had a big influence on the direction of my life.
“It will be quite special in a lot of ways.”
She is already more than halfway to her fundraising target of £10,000 and says the cause will help to motivate her on the day: “I discovered that when I had my accident that not only did you have a life-changing accident, which is devastating, it cost you a fortune as well.
“It’s pretty tough and I can’t imagine being a parent of a disabled child and not being able to get them stuff that really they need to give them a lot more freedom in their life.”
Claire, a mother of two young girls, will be accompanied on the day by husband, Dan, and their friend, Stu, from B&H Midland Services, dressed as Grand Prix grid girls.
She added with a chuckle: “They will be doing the marathon with fake boobs, heels and wigs so when I’m really tired at least I’ve got them to laugh at.”
Go to www.claireschallenge.co.uk/ to sponsor Claire or bid for an auction of special prizes where proceeds will also go to Whizz-Kidz.