Gill Barker, from Wakefield, has created her own twist on the trend to find the toughest, most epic charity challenge. Set to turn 35 in 2020, she will complete an incredible 35 challenges before her 35th birthday. Some are small, some are huge, but all of them will push her beyond her comfort zone.
In this blog post Gill updates us on her journey so far, and what’s in store for her in the coming weeks as she aims to raise as much as possible for her two chosen charities – Yorkshire Cancer Research and Leeds Mind.
I have spent the last 13 months pushing myself both physically and mentally outside my comfort zone. Full disclosure, there have been times when I’ve felt completely overwhelmed and stressed. I was putting far too much pressure on myself to succeed. I also lost the belief that I could achieve the challenges that I was setting myself. But having had the time to reflect, I have actually achieved SO much. I’m in a better place mentally, and although I’m slightly injured at the minute, I just love to keep fit as I’ve found that that helps with my mental state too.
Just some of the challenges that I’ve been fortunate to tick off my 35 Before 35 list are: trying out a CrossFit and Fitness Pole session, completing a 24-hour run, cycling up Mont Ventoux (French mountain which is a regular fixture of the Tour de France) and the Coll de Canes (a one time fixture in the Vuelta a Espana, Spanish Grand Cycling Tour), walking a section of Hadrian’s Wall and climbing Snowdon. I’ve cycled 128 miles Coast to Coast, I’ve run drills with Leeds Rhinos and I’ve spent time swinging in the tree tops at Go Ape. I’ve rowed a marathon on a static rowing machine, yes 26.2 miles! I’ve run a marathon, completed a duathlon, and most incredibly, I’ve even got in front of a microphone at BBC Radio Leeds for a LIVE radio interview!
There are still challenges ongoing, from trying to cure my gym phobia and improving my nutrition to attempting to achieve a sub 27 minute 5k. There are other challenges waiting in the wings, such as learning how to ski, taking part in a high ropes walk, abseil and gorge walk and organising a Halloween themed mental challenge….I am petrified! I’m also really looking forward to taking part in the Yorkshire Cancer Research Selby Three Swans Sportive on Sunday 1st September.
However, my next challenge is massive. I will be running (well jogging due to a tendon niggle) the entire 127 mile length of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal! I start in Liverpool this Sunday, 25th August, and will hopefully (!) finish outside Water Lane Boat House in Leeds on Friday 30th August, covering around 21 miles each day. I have been looking forward to this challenge for a whole year!
I’d like to say a MASSIVE thank you to everyone for their support over the last year. From helping me with my branding, website and social media, to organising a very successful fundraising evening in April, to the people who are taking part in the challenges with me, and to everyone who has kindly donated. All challenges are self-funded so 100% of donations go directly to Yorkshire Cancer Research and Leeds Mind. So far, we have raised over £2,000 which is absolutely amazing. I couldn’t achieve any of this without you all so thank you!!