Leeds Rhinos legend Kevin Sinfield praises 'brilliant' support: Fans from clubs across rugby league turned out to cheer him on 101-mile run

Fund-raising hero Kevin Sinfield has revealed how the thought of fans and family waiting at Leeds Rhinos' Headingley Stadium kept him going when his "legs stopped working" deep into his 101-mile charity run.

By Peter Smith
Saturday, 27th November 2021, 6:00 am

Including offline donations, Sinfield has now raised more than £2m - to be split between the Leeds Hospitals Charity Appeal to build a Rob Burrow Centre for motor neurone disease (mnd) in the city and the MND Association - through the extra-mile challenge from Leicester to Leeds.

Sinfield covered the distance in 24 hours and was cheered across the finish line, just after 8am on Tuesday, by a 1,000-strong crowd at Headingley.

The former Rhinos captain's family were also present, along with his ex-teammate Rob Burrow who was diagnosed with mnd two years ago.

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Kevin Sinfield with Rob Burrow at Headingley after the extra-mile challenge. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

Recalling his emotions as he entered his former home stadium, running alongside Burrow’s wife Lindsey and eldest daughter Macy, Sinfield said: “About 45km from Headingley my legs weren’t working as they should be.

“My mind was fine and my energy levels were fine, but my legs had stopped working.

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“Understanding I had to run over a marathon, which is hard enough, with legs that don’t work properly took us to a dark place; we knew we were in a battle then and we had to deal with it for five, six, seven hours.

Jack Sinfield in his first training session with Rhinos' senior squad, shortly after his dad Kevin completed the extra-mile challenge. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

“As soon as I got to Hyde Park and Lindsey and Macy were there, I was pretty emotional, I was ready to burst into tears.

“To have Lindsey and Macy with us and understanding Rob was going to be there and my wife and kids, mum and dad, it was really important.

“You really understand why you are doing it. Some lives have been massively affected by mnd, especially Rob, so to be able to see him at the end was massively emotional.”

Also at the stadium were Rhinos' first team squad, many of them recruited by Sinfield, including his son Jack.

He has been promoted from Rhinos’ academy to the first team squad for next season and the 17-year-old had his debut training session at the stadium on Tuesday, minutes after Sinfield’s arrival.

“That was lovely,” said the seven-time Grand Final winner.

“It certainly wasn’t planned, but it was really nice.

"When you are pushed to your limit and in that dark zone, things like that, being able to see [wife] Jayne and the kids and give them a cuddle and see Rob as well, are what drive you on.”

Now an assistant-coach in rugby union at Leicester Tigers, Sinfield said he was “massively overwhelmed” by the national reaction to his latest feat, which had an initial fund-raising target of £100,000.

Fans of both codes and a variety of clubs lined the route and he said: “There were Leicester shirts right up until we reached Leeds and in large numbers for the first six-eight hours, even in places like Nottingham.

“The interesting thing is, during those moments as well, there were a lot of rugby league shirts.

“There were a lot of Leeds shirts, we saw shirts from Wigan, St Helens, Hull KR, Hull - and a guy in a Salford shirt ran a couple of hundred metres with us.

“I don’t work at a rugby league club any more, but the fact people were out there in different rugby league jerseys, supporting, was brilliant.

“The same with Leicester shirts; they are two of the biggest rugby clubs in the UK, they have both been fantastic and they’ve really got behind this.”

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