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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Kevin Sinfield: Leeds Rhinos legend starts 101-mile MND run in Leicester

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Kevin Sinfield
Kevin Sinfield hopes to reach the finish at Headingley around 08:00 on Tuesday

Rugby league legend Kevin Sinfield has begun his attempt to run 101 miles in 24 hours to raise money for motor neurone disease research.

He set off from Welford Road, where he is a coach for Leicester Tigers.

The route will end at the Headingley home of rugby league club Leeds Rhinos, where he played for 18 years.

His ex-Rhinos team-mate Rob Burrow was diagnosed with MND in 2019 and Sinfield raised £2.7m last year by running seven marathons in seven days.

The 41-year-old, who was made an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for fundraising and services to rugby league in June, set an initial target of £100,000 for the Extra Mile Challenge, but pledges of support mean he has already exceeded that total.

His route will be split into 7km sections and he must complete each one within 60 minutes.

A crowd of well wishers, Leicester Tigers players and members of the Coldstream Guards were at Welford Road to cheer him on his way.

Speaking to BBC Radio Leeds last week, Sinfield said he hoped the experience would be “horrible and unpleasant”.

He continued: “A big part of the challenge is mental. There’s physical parts of it that are going to hurt and be horrible, but I think mentally every hour some of it is going to be torturous.”

Sinfield – who ran the London Marathon last month – aims to reach Nottingham by 14:40, where he will be joined on one leg by former Manchester City, Liverpool and England footballer Gemma Bonner.

Gemma Bonner
Gemma Bonner, who now plays in the USA, will join Kevin Sinfield for one section of his run

“I’ve known Kev since we were seven or eight in school. I knew Rob too from that age so I have a long-standing connection with them. They were unbelievable role models for me,” she said.

“It’s devastating the situation that Rob is in, but it [the run] shows the people that are around him, what they are about and what they represent. I always aspire to be like them. I’m grateful to be a tiny help to raise awareness.”

Progressing north, Sinfield plans to arrive in south Yorkshire around 21:00 on Monday and will continue throughout the night, with the final leg from Hyde Park in Leeds to Headingley beginning at 07:40 on Tuesday.

MND affects the brain and nerves and eventually stops muscles functioning.

The government has pledged to put at least £50m into MND research over the next five years.

Burrow hopes to be at the finishing line but Sinfield said: “Whether Rob is going to be good enough to be there on Tuesday, we’ll have to wait and see.

“If he is, I’ll be absolutely made up. If he’s not, I’ll understand. I’m sure there’ll be a couple of text messages en route where he’s laughing and taking the mickey out of us.

“But I absolutely know he will be with us every step of the way.”

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