You may have seen previous posts thanking the amazing Gill Barker for choosing to support Leeds Mind (and Yorkshire Cancer Research) whilst taking on the incredible 35 before 35 challenge.  The list of challenges Gill has completed so far is just mind blowing and there is still more to come!! 

Challenge #27 will start this Sunday, 25th August where Gill will start her massive 5 day challenge of running the entire 127 mile length of the Leeds Liverpool Canal!

We can’t thank Gill enough for her dedication to completing “35 before 35” and raising funds for both Leeds Mind & Yorkshire Cancer Research.  Good Luck Gill 

To  keep up to date with Gills remaining challenges you can follow her via

Instagram  /35_Before_35
Facebook  /35Before35
Twitter  /35_Before_35

Gill said….

I have spent the last 13 months pushing myself both physically and mentally outside my comfort zone. Full disclosure, there have been times where 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 so fortunate to tick off my 35 Before 35 list are: trying out a Cross Fit 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, taken part in Mind’s Red January and the most impressive was getting me in front of a microphone at BBC Radio Leeds for a LIVE radio interview!

There are still challenges ongoing, such as 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 to organising a Halloween themed mental challenge….I am petrified!

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 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. I have been looking forward to this challenge for a whole year!

Please follow me on my social media channels to see how I get on!

I just want 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 Leeds Mind & Yorkshire Cancer Research. 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!!

Challenges completed so far

  • Go Ape – tree tops and heights!
  • Drills with Leeds Rhinos – practising drills with professional rugby players? Enough said!
  • Run 3.5 miles every day for 35 days  for my mental health, to build consistency when you don’t feel like doing something
  • Cycling 128 miles Coast to Coast – what other way to push yourself than to cycle across the country in the pouring rain?!
  • Tried out a Pole Fitness class – this was such an eye opener. The amount of strength you need to do Fitness Pole is insane. This is such a great alternative than going to a gym!
  • Climbed Snowdon – I’m not a massive hiker and this was challenging. We had about four seasons in one day!
  • Completed the Crystal Maze – This was a great mental challenge to complete with my friends, especially as a lot of my challenges are solo ones.
  • 12 Days of Christmas – This was a 12 day exercise programme which aimed to inspire/encourage people to get active
  • Red January – This is a national Mind initiative where you pledge to be active every day in January. I was doing this alongside 12 Days of Christmas and Marathon training, both running and rowing!
  • Live radio interview with Stephanie Hirst on BBC Radio Leeds – this was SUCH a massive challenge for me as I’m terrified of public speaking, even to being anxious talking in meetings!
  • Meditation – which I still do now if I’m feeling low/overwhelmed etc
  • 24-Hour run  – this was another massive mental challenge, as I was running on the same 3.71 mile loop for a loooong period of time!
  • Rowing a marathon on a static rowing machine – further than the distance of the English Channel
  • Brighton Marathon – This was the first marathon where I literally enjoyed every second of it. Even better, my sister got a personal best!
  • Walk over 35km of Hadrian’s Wall – as previously mentioned, I’m not much of a hiker, and this took place over the hottest three days over Easter. The route was extremely hilly, something that I wasn’t prepared for. It was hard!
  • Tried out a CrossFit session!! I absolutely loved the nine minute Crossfit workout at the end of the taster. However, it ruined me!
  • Cycled up Mont Ventoux – a mountain that is regularly on the Tour de France routes
  • Cycled up Coll de Canes – a Spanish mountain that has been in the Vuelta a Espana once
  • Tried out paddle boarding and an inflatable floating obstacle course in a lake – open water!!
  • Duathlon – This is definitely something I want to explore more in the future!

Ongoing Challenges 

  • # 8 – 5k PB – sub 27 minutes  I’ve been focused on long distance running and now with my angry tendon, this has had to take a back seat for now. I’m hoping that i’ll be able to pick this back up at the beginning of next year
  • #9 – Improve nutrition for a healthier lifestyle – this is a weekly battle, especially when you eat your emotions!
  • # 10 – Gym phobia – I haven’t been in the gym for a long time, due to other priorities but I will need to get back in there ASAP to start training for my finale in March!
  • #15 – Cycling 3,500km/2,174 miles on a bike this year…between you and me, I won’t achieve the mileage, however, there are so many positives. I’ve been going out on my bike solo, which to this day, I still get very anxious about but I’m still doing it. I’m learning about bike maintenance and getting generally fitter.

Challenge still organise

  • # 12 – Try out a skiing lesson!

Challenge which had to be rescheduled due to weather

  • #26 – High ropes course, abseil and gorge walk!!

Upcoming challenges

  • Challenge 27 – Leeds Liverpool Canal run starts this Sunday 25th August. I will be starting where the navigation apparently starts in Liverpool, near Vauxhall? I will be running/jogging around 21 miles a  day. I aim to finish out WaterLane Boat House bar where the Canal ends on Friday 3th August. I’ve looked into the route, and there seems to be some tow path closures and a diversion at some point so my own navigational skills will need to be good!

I’ve been looking forward to doing this challenge for a year, but over the last four weeks, I’ve aggravated my tendon in my left ankle which has been causing a lot of trouble with my running. So as a result, I’ll be a lot slower than I wanted and am really concerned about how it’ll affect my ankle for upcoming challenges, but the show must go on. All challenges are self-funded so all accommodation for the week has been paid for and I’ve managed to get a busy period off of work.

  • Challenge 28 – Sunday 1 September  
    I’m really looking forward to the Selby Three Swans Sportive. I’ve never entered a Sportive before as I’ve always been too nervous, but I just couldn’t pass up an opportunity to further support Yorkshire Cancer Research.
  • Challenges 29 – 34
    These are being finalised now. The finale in March will (if I can pull the whole thing off) will be epic and I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop!


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