Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon: New 26-mile race named after Leeds Rhinos legend to build Centre for Motor Neurone Disease

A new marathon is being launched in Leeds to honour Rhinos legend Rob Burrow MBE.

By Peter Smith
Monday, 11th April 2022, 5:04 pm

The Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon will raise vital funds for the Leeds Hospitals Charity’s appeal to build the Rob Burrow Centre for Motor Neurone Disease (MND), as well as the MND Association (MNDA).

Organisers hope a total of 7,777 runners will take part in the run on Sunday, May 14, 2023, in honour of Burrow’s iconic Rhinos shirt number.

The event, being staged alongside the existing Leeds Half Marathon and a family fun run, will start and finish at Headingley Stadium has been inspired by former Rhinos captain Kevin Sinfield.

Rob Burrow, left, with his former Rhinos teammate and captain Kevin Sinfield. Picture by Allan McKenzie/

He raised millions of pounds for the battle against MND by running seven marathons in as many days two years ago and then completing a 101-mile jog, in just 24 hours, from Leicester to Leeds last November.

The marathon is a partnership between Leeds City Council and Jane Tomlinson’s Run For All, a not-for-profit sporting events company that stages the Leeds Half Marathon and Yorkshire Marathon.

It will be the first marathon in Leeds for 20 years and the circular route will take runners around Woodhouse Moor before travelling through Headingley, Adel and Bramhope to Otley, then back for the finish in Leeds.

Burrow described the new fundraiser as a “wonderful” innovation.

Rob Burrow, pictured scoring against St Helens in the 2011 Super League Grand Final, was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2019. Picture by Steve Riding.

He said: “I know it will be a fantastic occasion.

“Any opportunity to raise awareness and funds to fight MND is wonderful and I know so much money will be raised by those taking part for so many great causes that are personal to each runner.”

The former scrum-half, who won eight Super League titles with Rhinos between 2004 and 2017, added: “I am particularly pleased to see that the event combines the half marathon and a family fun run so everyone, of all abilities, can get involved.

“Good luck to everyone who signs up and thank you for your support.”

Former Rhinos captain Kevin Sinfield ran from Leicester to Leeds in just 24 hours last year to raise money for the fight agianst MND. Picture by Zac Goodwin/PA Wire.

Sinfield captained Burrow to all but the last of his Grand Final wins.

“Since Rob’s diagnosis, his former teammates, family, friends and people around the country have undertaken many fundraising challenges to raise money to help people living with MND and their families,” Sinfield said.

“It has been amazing to see people in Leeds and beyond get behind Rob on this journey over the last few years and seeing the launch of a dedicated event in the Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon is an incredible feeling.

“This event is a vital next step in ensuring we raise even more money, and help to make Rob’s dream of opening a new MND Care Centre in Leeds a reality.

Most importantly, after the restrictions in place over the last two years, it is a chance to look forward and plan ahead for a mass participation event to raise vital funds for so many good causes here in Leeds.”

Esther Wakeman, chief executive of Leeds Hospitals Charity, also welcomed today’s announcement.

She said: “Leeds Hospitals Charity is so excited that Run for All, the organisers of the Leeds Marathon, have chosen to rename this legendary run after a Yorkshire legend and support Leeds Hospitals Charity’s Rob Burrow Centre for MND appeal as one of their charity partners.

“I know many people across Yorkshire and the country will be very excited this truly prestigious event is back.

“The money raised will help Leeds Hospitals Charity make this wonderful new centre a reality, giving people living with MND and their families the best possible care and support.”

Chief executive at Run For All, Mike Tomlinson, commented: “When Jane and I set up our very first event back in 2007, our goal was to be able to provide running events that helped people to achieve new goals and raise money for charity.

“It’s an amazing feeling to be able to launch the Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon in honour of Rob and to help thousands of participants to run in this new event for their own goals and reasons, enabling funds to be raised for many deserving charities.

“We are incredibly excited for 2023 and to see 7,777 participants of all abilities to come together to cross that finish line at Headingley Stadium.”

Sally Light, chief executive of the MNDA outlined why fundraising to fight the disease is so important.

“Like everyone who has followed Rob Burrow’s journey with MND we, at the Motor Neurone Disease Association, are in awe of everything he has achieved,” she said.

“Currently there is no cure for MND and no effective treatments, but vital work is underway in laboratories and clinics across the world to change that.

“In addition to supporting people living with MND and funding coordination of care through our 22 MND care centres and networks across three countries, the Association has a research portfolio of around £15.1 million as of December 31, 2021.

“Being announced as a charity partner of the Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon is a huge honour and will help us maintain that important momentum towards effective treatments and a cure for MND.

“We want to thank everybody who will be lacing up their running shoes to take on this brilliant challenge in Rob’s name.”

The marathon is supported by Leeds City Council and the Leeds Rhinos Foundation.

Council leader councillor James Lewis said: “The launch of the Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon is testament to what the city is all about.

“Anyone who has been in the city on the day of the Leeds 10K and Leeds Half Marathon knows what an incredible energy and atmosphere there is and I am so excited to see the city come alive again for the Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon.

“Rob’s story has captured the hearts of the city, and it will be fantastic to see thousands of

participants coming together in honour of Rob and to raise funds for his very deserving cause.”

Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington said the club are “honoured” to host the start and finish.

He added: “To be able to bring together thousands of people to start and finish at our home, where Rob and Kevin achieved so much, is really special.

“We are used to hosting fantastic occasions at Headingley and I am sure this will be one that will live long in the memory and hopefully create a lasting legacy for Rob and his

fundraising efforts.”

Rhinos Foundation chief executive Bob Bowman stated: “We are proud to partner with Leeds City Council and Run for All to deliver the 2023 Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon.

“The Marathon distance has become synonymous with Kevin Sinfield’s support for Rob, his family, and the wider MND community and it is such a great legacy for the Marathon to return to Leeds.

“This will be a fantastic event for people to get behind, and raise valuable funds for charity, one which we also at the Leeds Rhinos Foundation will utilise to inspire many people to take part in next year and the future.”

Runners will be encouraged to raise money for their own personal reasons, or to support one of the event’s partner charities.