Rugby legend to undertake new Motor Neurone Disease charity run

RUGBY legend Kevin Sinfield is preparing for his most ambitious charity run yet to raise money for research into Motor Neurone Disease.

Last year’s seven marathons in seven days, which raised more than £2.7million, will be nothing compared with The Extra Mile Challenge on November 22.

The 41-year-old from Grasscroft is to run the 101 miles in one day between the rugby grounds of current employers Leicester Tigers and Leeds Rhinos where he is a legend.

His original run was inspired by the plight of former Rhinos’ team-mate Rob Burrow, who has MND.

Kevin, the new defence coach for the Welford Road side, has set an initial target of £100,000 as well as maintaining awareness of MND.

The route will be split into 7k sections and Kevin must complete each one in 60 minutes as the next will start on the hour.

“Undoubtedly this will the toughest challenge I have ever attempted but I know it will mean so much to so many people if we can reach our fundraising target,” he said.

“In my short time at the Tigers, the people in Leicester have made me feel so welcome and it is wonderful that we have been able to come up with an event that starts in Leicester and finishes coming home to Emerald Headingley.”

Kevin revealed it was his wife Jayne who suggested the epic run which is based on the Big Dogs Backyard Ultras.

That is based on competitors running 7k each hour until the last person remains, with the record 75 hours which equates to 312 miles in that time.

He said: “Twelve months after the last challenge, I was looking for another one.

“With the demands of my new job with Leicester Tigers, I am unable to do something which lasted one week.

“If I was to do something this time, it had to be for 24 hours and if was my wife who suggested running between the two rugby grounds.”

The 101 miles will be split into 24 hourly stages and people will be able to join Kevin along the way.

“It was difficult last year because of Covid, but hopefully more people will be involved this time for a great cause,” said Kevin who will have the same back-up team as last year providing support.

Kevin added he is not expecting a repeat of last year’s event which raised more than £2.7m.

Kevin Sinfield, right, during his 7 in 7 challenge

He explained: “The publicity we had was unbelievable with the seven marathons in seven days being covered live on BBC Breakfast and by other media.

“It has been tough for people in the last 18 months, and especially at this time with rising gas and electricity prices.

“I expect I won’t be far away from £100,000 by the start and there is other sponsorship as well. Anything else raised is a bonus.

“It is not so much about the money, but about keep banging the drum about research into MND and trying to make a difference.”

Kevin led Leeds to seven Grand Final triumphs and two Challenge Cup successes during his playing career, and subsequently worked for the club in an administrative role for three years.

He moved to Leicester in the summer and has already had a major impact in helping the team win seven games out of seven.

As well as public donations, Kevin is also hoping to enlist five benefactors willing to donate £20,000 each, which will double his initial target.

“The response from the public last year was breathtaking and I know, from feedback we have received from the MND Association, every penny has been put to good use to help members of the MND community across England and Wales,” he said.

Kevin with friend and team mate, Rob Burrow

“The more money we can raise, the more people we can help and ultimately find a cure for this cruel disease.

“I am sure there will be tough times as we pound the streets during the day and night, in cold November temperatures, but knowing the good we can all achieve together will be a huge motivation for everyone involved.”

In September, Burrow was among a delegation of people with MND who visited 10 Downing Street to hand in an open letter urging the Government to provide £50m for targeted research over the next five years.

Kevin added since retiring from playing in 2016 running has become a focus in his life helping both his physical and mental wellbeing.

He said: “Running has helped replace playing rugby which had been my life.

“I enjoy running and being able to keep fit and active in important for me.

“Since running my first marathon in 2017, I have now completed 22 and been able to incorporate running into challenges I have done.”

• Kevin Sinfield is the recipient of the 2021 Loch Lomond Spirit of Super League award.

It is bestowed upon someone who epitomises the values of the sport but goes above and beyond what is expected of them as a professional sportsman.

Sinfield was presented his award, along with an 18-year-old bottle of Loch Lomond Whisky, at Waterhead Rugby Club by former his teammate and fellow supporter of Rob Burrow, Barrie McDermott.

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