Crowds cheer on Claire Lomas as her London Marathon begins
While other runners were crossing the finishing line of yesterday's London Marathon, Claire Lomas, wearing a robotic suit, celebrated reaching the two-mile mark.
Claire, 30, of Eye Kettleby, near Melton, was paralysed from the chest down in a competitive horse riding event five years ago.
But yesterday she lined up at the start with 37,000 other people – and she is determined to complete the 26 miles, returning to the course on a daily basis.
Claire said: "This is only the start and I'm very much keeping that in mind.
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"The first stint has been absolutely amazing, though. The support has been incredible.
"People were shouting my name and cheering me on – I couldn't believe it."
Claire took her first steps in the ReWalk suit – a robotic aid which enables people with lower-limb paralysis to walk – 11 weeks ago.
She can cover a mile in about two-and-a-half hours in the suit, which uses motion sensors, electronic controls and computers.
"I am proud of myself," she said. "But really there is no time to be proud, I just have to try to keep going and going until I'm done."
Claire hopes to raise £50,000 for Spinal Research and has already collected more than £11,000.
Meanwhile, Martin Hulbert ran his way into the record books by donning a pair of wings for the race.
The 38-year-old, from Wigston, is now the fastest fairy to complete the race, with a time of two hours, 49 minutes and 44 seconds – beating the previous record by more than 20 minutes.
"It is not the most macho world record but it is a world record nonetheless and that's all that matters," he said.
"It was perfect today – the road, the weather, the crowd and the record."
He ran in memory of his wife Laura, who was killed, aged 25, by a speeding driver as she cycled home in 2004.
Martin and his family have raised nearly £40,000 for Wishes 4 Kids since Laura's death
"It keeps me going, knowing I am keeping Laura's memory alive," he said.
The charity also benefited from about £2,000 in sponsorship raised by 37-year-old Caroline Neal. The Wigston mum completed the race in four hours, 37 minutes.
Her daughter Hope was treated to a trip to Disneyland Paris by Wishes 4 Kids while she recovered from a rare kidney tumour discovered when she was 14 months old.
Caroline said: "Thankfully, Hope is nearly eight and has been given the all clear. But for many of the people helped by the charity the trips and treats they get are their last happy memories.
"It meant the world to Hope to go and visit the princesses and gave us happy memories at a time when things were very difficult."
Kenyan Wilson Kipsang won the elite men's marathon in two hours, four minutes and 44 seconds.
Mary Keitany, also from Kenya, defended her women's title in two hours, 18 minutes and 37 seconds.
See tomorrow's Mercury for more marathon stories.