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Inspiring London Marathon runners from paralysed horse rider to lifesaver dad

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Claire Lomas, who was awarded an MBE in 2017 and was one of just 26 people to be given a Spirit of London Award, guaranteeing her place in this year’s Marathon, is determined to take home a medal

Claire Lomas is determined to win a medal

Over the past 40 years, the London Marathon has attracted thousands of runners and raised thousands for charity.

Here, some of next Sunday’s inspiring competitors reveal why it’s such a cherished race for them…

This time, I want to get a medal

In 2012, Claire Lomas won fans across the world when she completed the London Marathon after 17 days.

The former horse rider, who was paralysed from the chest down in a riding accident in 2007, wore a robotic suit to take part in the race, raising £210,000 for Spinal Research.

But this year, Claire – who was awarded an MBE in 2017 and was one of just 26 people to be given a Spirit of London Award, guaranteeing her place in this year’s Marathon – is determined to take home a medal.



Claire with her husband Dan




The 41-year-old will be competing in motorcycle gear to raise money for Whizz-Kidz, a charity that transforms the lives of disabled youths.

Claire, who lives in Melton Mowbray, Leics, said: “I am hoping to complete it in a day but it’s going to be tough.

“My husband Dan and friend Stuart will be accompanying me as my grid girls complete with heels, dresses and wigs.”

  • To sponsor Claire, text CLAIRELM £5 to 70085.

I’ve loved training alongside my DNA twin

When Vicky Lawrence and Elliott Brock cross the finish line at the London Marathon, few spectators will know the bond the two runners have.

In 2008, physiotherapist Elliott, 42, donated his bone marrow to save Vicky’s life after the eight-year- old was diagnosed with severe aplastic anaemia.



Vicky and Elliott have a special bond




At the time of the life-saving op, in Vicky’s home town of Birmingham, the pair were complete strangers.

Vicky’s family wrote numerous letters to Elliott to say how grateful they were, but it wasn’t until Vicky started studying for her A-levels that he finally replied and they became firm friends.

Vicky, who is now 22 and a third-year medical student at Newcastle University, first suggested they take on the London Marathon to raise money for Anthony Nolan UK two years ago.







Dad-of-two Elliott, who lives in Colchester, Essex, said: “I foolishly agreed, but have loved the training and can’t wait to run alongside my DNA twin.

“There’s something poetic about Vicky getting me off my backside and healthy after I saved her life all those years ago.”



Elliott in hospital before the operation




I’m doing it for Wilma

Nicknamed Iron Man, Andy Farrer really is a hero who has superhuman strength.

The 56-year-old runs marathons carrying an ironing board and iron in tribute to his late partner Wilma Patton-Brolly, who took her own life in 2016, aged 47.

The pair, who met on a blind date in 2014, enjoyed a quirky pastime called “extreme ironing”, in which they posed for photos in scenic locations with an ironing board.



Andy Farrer and Wilma Patton-Brolly enjoyed a quirky pastime called ‘extreme ironing’
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Andy was planning to propose to Wilma at the finish line of the London Marathon in 2017. Instead, he now spends his time raising awareness of suicide prevention.

Andy, who never trains for his runs and cracks open a beer on the starting line, already holds the Guinness World Record for doing the London Marathon while carrying an ironing board and iron – and is keen to repeat it.

Since he started running, the Sainsbury’s meat counter worker has raised around £50,000 for charity and is aiming to raise £2,000 for VICTA next weekend.



Andy already holds the Guinness World Record for doing the London Marathon while carrying an ironing board and iron
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Andy, from Portrush in Northern Ireland, said: “If you’re holding an ironing board, people ask questions. I can talk about mental health, suicide and the Samaritans.

“If I can help other families avoid the suffering we’ve had, that’s my goal.”



Andy is raising money for the Samaritans
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My daughter ran race before she was even born

Lillie Clibbon-Grant has already run the London Marathon – despite having never competed before – as her mother ran it in 2002, unaware she was two-and-a-half weeks pregnant.

Lara Grant was so surprised by her “midlife baby” that she wrote to race sponsors Flora once Lillie was born to ask for a medal for her newborn.

When they posted one, they also invited Lillie to take part as soon as she was old enough, in 2021 – and now the 18-year-old is doing just that.



Lillie Grant will run the London Marathon after last completing the run 19 years ago in 2002, inside her just pregnant mum Lara
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Baby Lillie with her 2002 London Marathon medal
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Tim Merry)




Flora also arranged for three-time London Marathon winner Paula Radcliffe to help Lillie out by giving her some training tips via Zoom.

Catering manager Lara, 55, from Reading, Berks, jokes that Lillie “must have been the race’s youngest competitor”.

But Lillie, who is raising money for Newbury charity Time to Talk, said: “It inspired me to get into sport. I’m excited to be running. I hope I do Mum proud.”

  • Flora’s Get Towns Active Campaign arranged for marathon veteran Paula Radcliffe to surprise Lillie. For more details, see flora.com or #TeamFlora on Instagram.


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