550 Miles, 4 footballers and one big challenge

On the 16th of June four intrepid members of the University’s Women’s Football Club set off on a momentous challenge – to bike to Berlin.

The girls left Parkinson Steps with the hope of making it to the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin in just 8 days. Hannah, Lil, Cat and Fiona cycled approximately 550 miles across Europe to complete their journey! They were working in partnership with the University of Leeds RAG society in the hope of raising money for their chosen charities.

On their travels the girls faced a variety of different challenges, from aching legs to exhaustion. Around half way they found themselves caught in a five person pile up! With a few scraped knees they continued on their bike to Berlin. It was a physical challenge like no other and Lil admitted to us that:       

“None of us even had a bike when we signed up!”

However with a strong team motivating each other it was not as bad as they had anticipated. The girls managed to distract each other with silly games and songs when it got tough.

 

With such an extensive cycle the girls did put in some extra hours training but Lil told us that:

“To be honest we did very little training for it! With exams and university work due we were all quite busy towards the end of the year. I think by the time it came around I’d done a combined total of about 70 miles training which was only 5 miles further than the first day. But, the base fitness that we all had from football was enough to see our legs through.” 

Who are the charities?

The girls chose to split their fundraising efforts between three charities, the first of which is CooP Uganda. They are a small charity with aims of improving locals access to education, healthcare and work. Coop Uganda provides bicycles for individuals and also offers support for new enterprises that focus around social cycling.

The other two charities are those chosen by the university football club which the girls fundraise for through various events all year. Stonewall is one which aims to empower individuals as well as promoting equality for the LGBT community across the UK. They work within local communities and large institutions to support people in reaching their full potential. They chose to support Stonewall as it was suggested by the widow of Rachel Lush, an ex-Club Captain who sadly passed away a few years ago, and who this year the team introduced a charity alumni match in memory of.

Their final chosen charity is the James Burke Foundation. The charity was founded in memory of one of our rugby league players and also works to provide education and support for mental health. The girls noted that James Burke was a friend of many of their members and they wanted to help raise awareness of mental health issues, especially for male university students as it is something that isn’t spoken about enough.

The bike to Berlin proved to be a fantastic experience for everyone involved. Hanna told us a little more about her journey:

“The experience as a whole was amazing! Surprisingly the day we crashed was my favourite day as it gave us a laugh. Other days were a bit deflating but getting into Berlin and all cycling up towards the Parliament building together was an amazing feeling. We had a couple friends meeting us at the finish line and the support team were waiting with prosecco so it was an awesome reception!”