MOST people celebrate their 50th with a party but an inspiring Levens councillor decided to tackle a tough Siberian marathon instead.

Annie Rawlinson, who runs NJO Technology in Kendal with her husband, took on the epic challenge on Saturday to raise money for Samaritans.

After running the London marathon last year for the charity, Mrs Rawlinson began hunting for a running challenge she could embark upon to mark her milestone birthday.

 “It was probably the most amazing experience of my life," said Mrs Rawlinson, who was one of 150 competitors. "I am still on a high!”

Mrs Rawlinson, who represents Levens on South Lakeland District Council, wore a special birthday cake hat while she ran round Lake Baikal.

“As well as all the winter running clothing I had on, I had a birthday cake hat over my balaclava which received some wonderful reactions," she said.

"After every food stop point, everyone sang happy birthday to me, it was just amazing.”  She completed the Siberian marathon in six hours 48 minutes.

"It was such a special experience and my husband Mike and I met some wonderful people on the trip," she said.

“One of the many highlights was when we got a hovercraft over to the starting line, the views were just unbelievable. The conditions were tough, it was about minus 18 degrees when we started but every moment was worth it.

“The party was great afterwards too, plenty of Russian champagne and vodka!”

Mrs Rawlinson said she plans to run the London Marathon again in April to raise even more money for Samaritans.

The charity, founded in 1952 provides emotional support to anyone in emotional distress, struggling to cope, or at risk of suicide throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland, often through their telephone helpline.

Last year, the ambitious woman completed the 26.2 mile challenge in the capital by playing ‘Bring me Sunshine’ on a little red trumpet to the crowds.

She has raised £400 so far but hopes to hit a £5000 target.

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