SHE describes herself as “18 with 22 years experience”.
One Edinburgh woman is set to mark her milestone 40th by entering a daunting 26-mile marathon on Mount Kilimanjaro – raising money for charity in the process.
Elizabeth Bowes, a social activist with Destiny Church, climbed to the summit of the world’s tallest free-standing mountain a few years ago.
On Sunday, she returns to Tanzania to run the Kilimanjaro marathon, the first of seven back-breaking challenges she’s set herself to celebrate her 40th birthday.
“I wanted to do something significant for the occasion,” she said.
“I’ve done volunteering work in Tanzania in the past and my birthday is a good excuse to go back.
“I’ve run a few half-marathons in the past, but never anything like this.
“Turning 40 made me realise I didn’t want to settle down. I want to prove to myself that age is just a number.”
Elizabeth has already raised £725 for Destiny Church and Bethany Christian Trust, where she volunteers. She hopes to raise £2,000 in sponsorship over the next eight months.
Her set challenges include climbing the UK’s three highest peaks in a day, competing in the Edinburgh Marathon in May and running a 40-mile route in the Lake District.
However, she describes the Kilimanjaro run, which starts in the small town of Moshi and leads up the side of the mountain, as the hardest. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa, at about 4,900 metres (16,100 ft) from its base to 5,895 metres (19,341 ft) above sea level.
She said: “The weather, the humidity and steep parts of the route will be particularly challenging, but the atmosphere means it’s going to be really special.
“I hear it’s a community event and that the whole village will be out singing, dancing and cheering everyone on.”
While Elizabeth says she is motivated by “running in the shadow of Kilimanjaro”, she is also inspired by the causes she will raise money for.
In her role as social action coordinator for Destiny Angels, the social action department of her church, she oversees community projects such as food banks and community meals.
With Bethany Christian Trust, she volunteers to provide food, drink and shelter for rough sleepers in Edinburgh.
“I have a real heart for community transformation,” she said. “I want to help people where they’re at, whether that be vulnerable women, homeless people or those suffering with addiction.”
Elizabeth will not have much time for a lie in – the marathon kicks off at 6.30am on Sunday – but she has been training hard and intends to finish.
“I’ve been training the last few months on icy pavements and 50mph winds, so not ideal for 34 degrees heat,” she said.
“I’ve been here acclimatising since last Thursday. It’ll be a test of mental perseverance, but I’m excited.”
To sponsor Elizabeth go to https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com and search for “Elizabeth Bowes”. Her page appears under “Challenge Bowes”.