Cheers and kisses as 'bionic' woman Claire finishes marathon
Paralysed mum Claire Lomas has made history by becoming the first person to complete the London Marathon using a robotic suit.
Hundreds of supporters lined the final leg of the 26.2-mile course yesterday to cheer the 32-year-old over the finish line, 17 days after she set out on the challenge.
Claire was accompanied by her husband Dan and baby daughter Maisie as she passed under the famous red ballooned arch.
She said: "This is the most amazing day of my life. It feels a bit surreal to be honest."
Claire, who was paralysed from the chest down after falling from a horse five years, wept with happiness as she finished the route in The Mall near Buckingham Palace.
As she neared the end of course, she stopped to pay her respects to fellow Leicestershire competitor Claire Squires at the point the 30-year-old, from North Kilworth, collapsed and died.
Claire said: "It was so sad especially as she was so near the end. I just really feel for her family. It seemed right to spend a moment thinking about her."
Looking back on her feat, Claire, from Eye Kettleby, near Melton, said that Monday was probably the lowest point of the 17-day epic.
"My shoulders were tired, my arms were tired and my neck hurt from using my crutches.
"I really didn't feel like carrying on but I saw my family and friends who have been with me every step and I knew I had to.
"The final stretch from Big Ben was actually pretty easy, because all the people who turned up to support me were pushing me on."
The marathon's sponsors Virgin had declared Claire would not get an official medal because she fell outside the qualifying time, but Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson made sure she was presented with a special trophy to recognise her bravery.
However, as she crossed the line, Olympic rowing hero Sir Matthew Pinsent presented her with a box of a dozen medals that had been donated by some of the other 36,000 runners following a campaign he started on Twitter.
Sir Matthew said: "What Claire has achieved is amazing. The marathon organisers made their decision, but so many people got in touch to say they felt she deserved one and more and they sent them in. It was a great honour to give them to Claire."
Claire said: "It's a lovely thing for people to do. I've gone from having no medal to having heaps of them. There's also one for Dan and a mini-marathon medal for Maisie.
"It great, but it's never been about getting a medal for me. It has all been about raising money for Spinal Research and awareness of the great work the charity is doing."
At the last count, Claire's fund-raising total had shot through the £90,000 barrier.
Husband Dan said: "I am extremely proud of her. It is an amazing thing she has achieved. I know she has found it tough, but she's stuck to it."
Last night, Claire's family and friends were set to enjoy a party at a luxury hotel, paid for by Virgin, before returning home to Leicestershire.
The Israeli-designed robotic suit, marketed in the UK by Cyclone Technologies, uses motion sensors, robot controls and on-board computers to help the user walk.
Claire borrowed the £43,000 suit from Cyclone Technologies.
She said: "I'm not sure what I'm going to do next. I'm not very good at doing nothing. I hope to be able to have my own suit by September and then I can think up another challenge.
"I am going to start writing a book and, after 17 days slogging through the streets of London, I'm looking forward to spending some time with Dan and Maisie."
View our updates from Claire's marathon below.
You can donate online at: http://www.justgiving.com/Claire-Lomas