‘I really thought I’d taken on too much this time’
Claire Lomas overcame strong doubts about whether she would make it to the finish before completing her second London Marathon on Sunday.
And this year’s experience - she finished in 6hrs 40mins in a conventional wheelchair - was very different to her first one in 2012, when she took 17 days to complete the 26 miles in a revolutionary robotic suit.
This was just the latest gruelling fundraising challenge the Eye Kettleby woman has taken on, of course, since she was left paralysed from the chest down in 2007 following a horse riding accident.
Claire (41), wearing motorcycle racing leathers and a helmet, was accompanied by husband Dan and their friend, Stuart Hall, who were both dressed as Grand Prix grid girls, with wigs and skirts on.
She told the Melton Times: “I was really scared on the Saturday after we arrived in London the day before.
“We drove along part of the highway and I thought ‘oh my God, it’s hillier than I thought’.
“I really started to wonder if I’d taken on too much.”
When she first took on the marathon nearly a decade ago, Claire plodded along in her special suit for day after day, long after the roads and pavements were opened again and the course signage and infrastructure dismantled.
She said: “When I did it before I was left behind really quickly and it wasn’t like I’d experienced the London Marathon properly because it was a case of making my way around the course on my own.
“It was amazing on Sunday, though, there was such brilliant support and some of those volunteers cheering us on burned off so many calories because they put so much into it.”
The leathers proved quite restrictive, she said, and it was very warm for her when the sun came out.
Claire got shooting pains in her wrists when they reached Canary Wharf and the group’s progess was slowed when Dan suffered severe cramp at one point. Stuart developed nasty blisters through wearing boots with his costume.
She was hugged by daughters, Maisie and Chloe, at the finish line and she was delighted to be presented with her medal after missing out on one last time because participants have to finish on the day.
“We were chuffed with the time we finished in and I couldn’t be happier with how it went,” added Claire, who appeared live on ITV1’s Good Morning Britain breakfast television show on Monday to talk about her latest achievement.
She has raised £10,000 from Sunday’s marathon effort for the Whizz-Kidz charity, which provides mobility equipment for young wheelchair users.
Go to https://www.claireschallenge.co.uk/ to sponsor Claire or take part in her auction of special prizes, which closes tonight (Tuesday) at 9pm.
Claire is taking part in the Great South Run at Portsmouth on October 17 in a wheelchair, accompanied by a team of 30 runners, with sponsorship funds going to the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation.