With many people struggling to keep their New Year’s resolutions and be more active in 2018, 23-year-old Sarah Locke has put her money where her mouth is and will take on two epic physical challenges in aid of Horsham-based international wildlife charity Born Free.
Sarah, who works as executive assistant to Born Free’s President, Will Travers OBE, will fly to Tanzania in early February, along with her younger sister Annabel, 19, and 13 other climbers, on a mission to conquer Africa’s highest peak - Mount Kilimanjaro.
The trip, organised by the XP Club, a private members’ organisation which encourages entrepreneurship and achievement, will involve a gruelling seven-day trek through five different eco-systems including rainforest, alpine and glacial terrain, before they reach the summit, some 585 metres above sea level.
Sarah, who lives in Henfield, said: “I’ve always loved hiking and have climbed quite a few mountains in the UK.
“I have actually hiked the UK’s three highest mountains; Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis - not that they’ll be anything on Kilimanjaro of course!
“Now Christmas is officially over, my training has stepped up a bit,” she added.
“I think I’m most nervous about the altitude as it’s quite hard to prepare for and difficult to predict. Plus, the temperature is going to be a lot chillier than anything I hiked in before so I’m having to stock up on lots of warm gear.”
After returning from Tanzania, Sarah will have just eight weeks to step up her training for the Virgin London Marathon on Sunday April 22.
Having already completed several half marathons, including Brighton, Conwy and the Great North Run, Sarah has some distance running experience under her belt, but is not underestimating the challenge.
She says: “I do enjoy running once I’m out there but a full 26 miles will take some serious training.
“Plus running without the companion of my springer spaniel, Bilbo, is something I’ll have to adjust to!
“What with both challenges being so close together, I can’t work out which I’m most excited for.
“Kilimanjaro will be such an experience, but once it’s over I think the marathon will catch up with me very quickly, so I’m trying to stay as prepared as I can.”
Sarah’s sponsorship money will go to two of Born Free’s partner projects.
The first is SeaSense in Tanzania, which protects endangered marine turtles when they hatch from their nests and have to make the dangerous journey to the sea.
The second half of the funds will go to a community-based programme in Kenya.
Born Free engages communities with the local wildlife by supporting infrastructure improvements, providing educational resources, and tackling issues such as lack of renewable energy and clean water.
Born Free’s President, Will Travers OBE, who has himself successfully climbed Kilimanjaro twice, said: “When Sarah reaches the top and looks down from the Roof of Africa to the world spread out below, she will understand, as I did, why protecting the natural world and all life on earth is a mission to embrace for all time.”
To sponsor Sarah please visit: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sarah-locke2
To find out more about the work of the Born Free Foundation, go to www.bornfree.org.uk
To find out more about the XP Club visit https://www.thexpclub.com/