Claire Lomas has revealed she will be taking on the Great North Run in September – and she hopes well-wishers will join her en route.
Former eventer Claire, who was paralysed from the chest down in a cross-country fall, will be walking the 13.1 mile route from Newcastle to South Shields in a robotic “ReWalk” suit.
Organisers — The Great Run Company — have given her an official entry and she will start walking on 7 September with the aim of completing the final mile in front of crowds on 11 September.
Claire is expecting to walk around three miles per day and will give assemblies to schools along the way, with the children joining her to walk parts of the course.
Claire said the organisers invited her to take part when the news broke that Vitality London 10000 had rejected her entry.
“The Great North Run is such a big one,” she told H&H. “The organisers have been amazing — it is very different to others I have done before.
“I would like people to come and join me walking if they can.”
Claire’s five-year-old daughter Maisie has also been given a place on the one-mile Mini Great North Run.
Mark Hollinshead, chief executive of The Great Run Company, said Claire will be “guaranteed the warmest of receptions”.
“Claire is an inspiration and we are absolutely delighted to welcome her,” he said. “Her enthusiasm, positivity and ‘can do’ attitude is both uplifting and infectious.”
The former four-star eventer was paralysed in an accident at Osberton Horse Trials in 2007.
Since then, she has made it her aim to help find a cure for paralysis and has so far raised more than £500,000 for the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation.
In 2012, she made history as she became the first paralysed person to walk the London Marathon, which she completed in 17 days.
The mother-of-one has hand-cycled 400 miles around the UK, and learnt to ride a motorbike to take part in a charity race.
In May this year, she walked 10km in a day after Vitality London 10000 organisers reversed their decision to not let her take part and gave her an unofficial entry.
On Wednesday (20 July), Claire was also presented with an honorary degree alongside comedian Lenny Henry at Nottingham Trent University.
- Paralysed former eventer Claire Lomas takes on motorbike challenge
- Claire Lomas completes 10km challenge
- Claire Lomas raises more than £500,000 in mission to cure paralysis
“I had no choice with what happened to me,” said Claire.
“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.”