The inspirational fundraiser, who was paralysed in a riding accident, aims to complete the 13.1-mile course in five days
British campaigner and fundraiser Claire Lomas is to take part in this year’s Great North Run, using a ‘bionic suit’ to help her complete the 13.1-mile course.
The former event rider was paralysed from the chest down in a riding accident in 2007 but in 2012 became the first person to complete a marathon wearing the revolutionary ‘ReWalk’ suit, covering the 26.2 miles in 17 days.
Lomas’ Great North Run journey will begin on Wednesday September 7. It is anticipated that she will complete around three miles per day and take in the final mile on Sunday September 11.
She will become the first person to take on a Great North Run using a bionic suit, and the 36-year-old is looking forward to the day.
“I’ve always fancied doing the Great North Run and I was thrilled when the organisers invited me to take part having heard I had been turned away from other events,” said Lomas, whose mother, Joyce, is from Newcastle.
“My accident was an eventing accident. Horses take up your life. I’d just got to the highest level in the sport about eight months before and it was such a big loss for me.
“But as much as I loved it, it stopped me doing other things so since then, life has opened new doors for me. I’ve done the London Marathon four years ago but I always wanted to do the Great North Run because it looks amazing, with a brilliant atmosphere.”
Lomas has rebuilt her life since the accident nine years ago, discovering new sports and raising money for spinal charities.
She has raised more than £500,000 for the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation and has given numerous motivational speeches.
During her five days on Tyneside, Lomas will be talking to children at school assemblies along the route, and the students will also join her for sections of the walk from Newcastle to South Shields.
Lomas, whose daughter Maisie, aged five, will be taking part in the Mini Great North Run, said: “After London, I did 400 miles on my hand bike around the UK and visited schools to talk to them about how I dealt with my accident, what I’ve done since and to never give up, so that’s what I’m doing again during the Great North Run.
“Each day I’ll be doing a school visit, talk to the kids in the assembly, some will join me, hopefully they can take a few things away from that.
“I had no choice with what happened to me. You have a bit of a choice in how you deal with it, but it wasn’t without dark days. Everyone thinks that the marathon was the biggest challenge, but just getting out of bed when you’ve got nothing to get up for was a lot harder.
“Rebuilding my life was the darkest time and the hardest time. Now I’m in a better place, I’ve got my little girl, so it’s very different. If I can go into the schools and help one person then it’s a brilliant feeling. I feel in a fortunate position to be able to do that.”
Event organisers The Great Run Company have given Lomas number 2016 for the Great North Run. Chief executive, Mark Hollinshead, said: “Claire is an inspiration and we are absolutely delighted to welcome her. Her enthusiasm, positivity and ‘can do’ attitude is both uplifting and infectious.
“She will be guaranteed the warmest of receptions in her latest challenge at the Great North Run.”