Charity race organisers reject Claire Lomas’ 10km entry

  • Claire Lomas has had her entry to a 10km charity race rejected on the grounds that her robotic walking suit contains a motor.

    The former event rider was paralysed from the chest down after a fall at Osberton Horse Trials in 2007.

    She had planned to take part in the Vitality London 10000, wearing the suit in which she completed the London Marathon course in 2012, in 17 days, in aid of the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation.

    Her aim was to complete the 10km race in one day.

    However, the event organisers refused her entry on the grounds that “the rules” state “no form of motorised assistance is permitted”.

    Their decision has led to widespread outcry and calls for them to reconsider.

    But Claire, who has said she plans to walk the route regardless of the organisers’ decision, told H&H she never expected the “unbelievable” reaction.

    She explained she decided that if she raised £1,000 for the charity, she would walk the route anyway. The total on her JustGiving page has already passed £2,490.

    “I thought maybe I should do this — it is four years since the marathon,” she said.

    “It is a bit like childbirth, you say ‘never again’.”

    Her daughter Maisie and husband Dan will be among her supporters on the day.

    “I do not quite know whether it is achievable or not, but I am training hard,” she said.

    “It is so much harder in London — I am aware of that from experience.”

    The mother-of-one described the training as “torture” and is building up her time in the suit.

    “The reason I am doing this is for the charity and to raise awareness,” she said.

    “When I am finding it hard, I remind myself why I am doing it.”

    Speaking to Sam Walker on Radio 5 Live on Friday morning (22 April), she said she was disappointed when she received the rejection email.

    “Then I thought about it for two seconds, and thought ‘I will do it anyway’,” she said.

    “Even if I haven’t got an entry, I can still go there.

    “They will not let me in the start area, but I can get a map.”

    Event director Hugh Brasher said he has contacted Claire through the charity to invite her to discuss the situation.

    “The Vitality London 10k is a race held under IAAF, UK Athletics and IPC rules which prohibit the use of motors,” he said.

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    “The race is fully inclusive and the field includes a wide range of participants with disabilities including elite wheelchair athletes, participants in day chairs and visually impaired runners with guides.

    “Unfortunately under the rules of the event, no form of motorised assistance is permitted.”

    He added there are “many events” around the country which are not held under these rules, including the Vitality Westminster Mile on 29 May.

    “We would be delighted to welcome Claire to participate in the Vitality Westminster Mile which also, like the 10k, starts on The Mall and finishes in front of Buckingham Palace,” he said.

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