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Leeds Trinity University alumna and staff member Gill Barker is undertaking her final physical challenge as part of a two-year initiative to raise money for local charities and raise awareness of mental health

Gill Barker pictured with bike during final challenge .

Gill is currently taking on a “tri-life-athlon”, a 260-mile triathlon from her hometown of Chatham in Kent up to Yorkshire where she now works and lives. This final endurance test marks the end of Gill’s 35 Before 35 challenge series, which she started in 2018 to raise money for Leeds Mind and Yorkshire Cancer Research. Gill 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.

Starting challenge 35 on Saturday 7 March, so far Gill has travelled through Kent, Essex, Cambridge and Lincolnshire, revisiting her old school in Essex and beloved Charlton AFC for a pitch-side photograph. She will cross the finish line outside Leeds Town Hall on Saturday 14 March, coinciding with her 35th birthday.

Gill said: “I couldn’t wait to get started on this challenge as I’ve been planning it for a long time. In preparation, I got myself a personal trainer and have been in the gym consistently since September to build up my strength alongside trying to fit runs, cycles and swimming into the mix. I was honesty nervous about day one and two of this challenge as I was running a full marathon on day one, followed by 29 miles on day two.

“So far it has been a trip down memory lane; running past my old house in Chatham as well as my high school in Essex. Thank you so much to everyone for their support – it’s really helping me get through this final challenge and is greatly appreciated!”

Brett Arnall, Alumni Relations Officer at Leeds Trinity University, said: “As a close friend and colleague of Gill, it’s difficult to put into words how proud our department feel about her achievements. It’s been two years of hard work and pushing herself to the limit, to really make a different in raising money and awareness for Mind and Yorkshire Cancer Research. Each challenge has been very different, she’s achieved so much in this time, and she should feel very proud.”

In the last year, Gill has completed 35 mental and physical challenges, raising over £3,000 for charity. Previous physical challenges include: Coast-to-Coast cycle; cycling up Mont Ventoux; the 127-mile Leeds Liverpool canal run; climbing Mount Snowdon; and the Honolulu Marathon in Hawaii. She has also overcome several mental challenges such as: public speaking on BBC Radio Leeds; overcoming her fear of heights at Go Ape; and abseiling at How Stean Gorge.

Gill’s final challenge will culminate outside Leeds Town Hall on Saturday 14 March. For those that would like to show their support at the finish line, she is aiming to arrive in Leeds between 12.00 and 12.30pm.

To find out more about 35 Before 35, click here.

If you would like to donate to Gill’s mission, please visit her fundraising page here.

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