LEEDS Rhinos’ director of rugby Kevin Sinfield put on his Sunday best to complete a solo marathon effort in record breaking time.
With his attempt on this month’s Manchester Marathon cancelled due to coronavirus, the 39-year-old took to the streets of his native Saddleworth on March 22 to raise funds and awareness for Motor Neurone Disease as well as Leeds Foundation.
And ‘Sir Kev’ had finished his own planned 26.2 miles route before most people had enjoyed their first cuppa of the day.
Cheered on by family and friends, including on loan Leeds Rhinos forward Joe Greenwood and another Saddleworth based RL legend Barrie McDermott, ‘Sinny’ sprinted home in three hours 18 minutes – four minutes faster than his previous personal best.
He also reached his fund-raising target of £5,000 in support of friend and former team mate, Rob Burrow, who was diagnosed with MND in December 2019.
“It was really tough but the weather was fantastic,” said the 39-year-old ex-Leeds and England captain who set-off at 7am from the Farrars Arms at Grasscroft on his run through top and bottom Mossley, Greenfield, Uppermill, Dobcross and Delph.
“I wasn’t expecting that time because I knew course was really tough,” he said after finishing outside Saddleworth Museum. “But the good weather helped because there was hardly any wind.
“I was cramping towards the last few minutes and my legs were really tired. But it is done now so I am happy. I just need a bacon butty and a lie down but as it is Mother’s Day, I have other duties too.”
Sinfield, who ran his first marathon in 2016, was scheduled to race his latest long-distance attempt on April 5.
Instead, last minute training was condensed so he could run solo, passing close to the Shaw Hall Bank Road ground of National Conference League side Saddleworth Rangers.
There may not have been thousands of spectators but Sinfield was still grateful for all the support.
“I could have waited until the weekend of April 5 but I suspect we could be locked down at some stage,” he said.
“Loads of mates were out cheering me on so it was great. A couple of the lads were also on the course on bikes so they really sheltered me at times.
“I suppose when you are doing it on your own you don’t expect people to come out. But a lot of people were pipping their horns at me and I had a lot of friends and family too.
“The big thing though was about awareness; for Rob, Doddie (Weir), Stephen Darby and the like and what they are going through at this time.
“And also what is going on in the wider world and the UK with coronavirus and the amount of people suffering or who are stuck in doors. So, a big shout out to them too.
“Because of where we are in society at the moment, it is more about awareness.
“I saw that the youngest person to die from coronavirus in this country was a guy who had MND.
“I am thinking about Rob, who is in isolation and if I can raise a bit of awareness and keep his name out there, that’s the main thing.
“At the moment there’s a lot of vulnerable people and Rob is certainly one of them. But I appreciate there’s a lot of kind people out there and if they’d like to donate it will go to two great causes.”
To sponsor Sinfield, log on to https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/LeedsRhinos