A Leeds Trinity alumna and current staff member is getting ready to face her next physical challenge as part of a two-year initiative to raise money for local charities and look after her own mental health in the process.

Gill Barker will take on the task of running the Leeds Liverpool canal this weekend as part of her 35 Before 35 challenge series, in a bid to raise awareness of mental health and fundraise for Leeds Mind and Yorkshire Cancer Research. Gill will run 127 miles over the course of six days, from Sunday 25 August, and will finish the run at the end of Leeds canal on Friday 30 August.

"I founded 35 Before 35 to work on myself after neglecting my mental health for far too long," said Gill. "I don't want to miss out on opportunities anymore!

"During these challenges I have stepped out of my comfort zone and they have been a great way to instil some self-belief."

Gill came up with 35 Before 35 after watching her cousin in the 2018 London Marathon and feeling inspired by the runners and their individual stories. She wanted to make an impact and help people, push her physical and mental boundaries, and improve her own mental health, which she admits to previously neglecting.

In the last year, Gill has completed 26 out of 35 challenges and has raised over £2,000 for charity through many physical activities such as: Coast-to-Coast cycle, Brighton Marathon, climbing Mount Snowdon and completing a 24-hour run. She has also overcome several mental challenges as part of the initiative, which include: public speaking on BBC Radio Leeds and at fundraising events, improving her nutrition and overcoming her fear of heights at Go Ape.

Reflecting on her experience of completing the challenges so far, Gill added: "I'm hoping that I'll show both myself and others that we really can achieve anything we put our minds to. As the saying goes, growth doesn't happen in comfort zones!

"I've been really look forward to this run for just over a year. It's a shame I'm now a little injured as this is adding to my anxiety levels but I'm going to give it my all!"

Gill studied Marketing at Leeds Trinity, graduating in 2006. She now works at the University as a Senior Marketing Officer and has carried out all the challenges, which are all self-funded, whilst working full-time.

Brett Arnall, Alumni Relations Officer at Leeds Trinity University, said: "This is an amazing story from an amazing graduate and colleague. Having suffered mental health issues myself I can empathise with what Gill has gone through. The challenges she has set herself and overcome are monumental.

"I don't think Gill realises fully how much admiration so many people have for how she has challenged herself in so many ways. The fact that she is raising significant funds for great causes at the same time says a great deal about the type of person she is."

Gill will start the 127-mile run on Sunday (25 August) and it will culminate at the end of Leeds canal on Friday 30 August. Her final challenge will take place on Saturday 14 March 2020, tying in with her 35th birthday, the details of which she is keeping firmly hidden for the meantime.

To find out more about 35 Before 35, clickhere. ?

If you would like to donate to Gill's mission, please visit her fundraising pagehere.??


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