KEVIN Sinfield has revealed he was teary-eyed as he saw people standing on the streets he calls home as he completed his Ultra 7 in 7 challenge.
The rugby league legend, who lives in Grasscroft, has raised about £2.5 million, when Gift Aid is added, for motor neurone disease charities after running from Murrayfield in Edinburgh to Manchester United’s Old Trafford home.
But as he made his way along the Saddleworth roads he jogs on normally before heading into Oldham, there were some emotional moments.
“That was really emotional for me and some of the team who live around here,” Sinfield said.
“It was the last day, so we were all tired and pretty beaten up, and I felt myself welling up and fighting back tears.
“Tears of joy by the way as I was seeing people I love and care about.
“But to come through my home town and have that sort of support was something else. I’ll never be able to forget it and nor do I want to.
Sinfield had a number of famous running mates during his 275-mile journey, including Steve Cram, Alistair Brownlee, Gemma Bonner and another member of Saddleworth’s sporting royalty.
For football icon and near neighbour Paul Scholes joined him on the last leg after a meeting in Uppermill.
Sinfield, currently defence coach at Leicester Tigers rugby union club, added: “Paul’s a special guy. I’ve asked him to support the challenges and he’s just said, ‘Yes.’
“No, ‘When? Where? What do you need?’ I bumped into him as we came out of an Italian restaurant in Uppermill about a month ago and he said, ‘You’re doing that crazy challenge, aren’t you?’
“I said, ‘If you fancy running for a bit, we’d love to have you.’ He just went, ‘Yep, let me know where you want me, I’ll be there.’ He was absolutely brilliant. He didn’t need to do that for us, but he did.”
Sinfield’s fundraising, which totals about £7.5 million across three challenges, has made a huge difference but he has a serious message for the Government.
Come good on the £50 promised for motor neurone disease.
He said: “This is a community that’s been lost and left for so long.
“I understand there’s an element of red tape and bureaucracy but I look at some of the other ways the Government has spent money over the last couple of years and I don’t think it’s been scrutinised like this is.
“That’s the bit I don’t understand, that’s the bit that disappoints me because people are dying, people are being diagnosed across the UK and families are being ravaged and left. That isn’t right.
“The £50 million is for research. There’s nothing that helps families or call centres or gives advice. There’s nothing that gives people communication devices to speak to their families.
“There’s nothing there to make house adjustments. There’s nothing there to make sure families are supported properly through counselling and emotional support.
Sinfield revealed he ran the two last legs of the challenge with a sore Achilles tendon after suffering from swelling on the Friday.
He became an unlikely TV star by stopping to urinate just as live BBC cameras cut to him. Although he says, ‘If there had been one on for seven days, you’d have seen a lot more. Thankfully it wasn’t a Paula Radcliffe moment.’
But after three mammoth challenges – seven marathons in seven days, a 101-mile continuous run and now seven ultra marathons – he could be forgiven for thinking, ‘That’s it.’
Yet others could come, just not running ones as he said: “When I addressed the group before we set off, I said, ‘This would probably be the last run.’
“I did caveat that, though, by saying Rocky IV is my favourite Rocky. On Sunday, I thought about it but I’m not sure another big run is where we should go.
“I have ideas. I feel I’ve another couple of challenges in me.
“I’ve had my rewards. Over the last two years and the three challenges, I feel like a billionaire in memories and friendships as I know I’ve some people who’ll go above and beyond for me.”