Pain was visibly etched on Kevin Sinfield’s face when he completed his incredible final fundraising challenge on Tuesday morning. He arrived at Headingley Stadium, 24 hours and 101 miles since leaving Leicester, alongside the wife and daughter of former rugby league teammate Rob Burrow, the inspiration for his exploits.
Emotionally and physically exhausted, Sinfield begged the BBC’s Sally Nugent not to make him cry as she spoke about the epic race that raised over Â£ 1million for motor neuron disease Burrow suffers from. But when he kissed Burrow on the Headingley pitch, you wouldn’t blame anyone else if he’d shed a tear or two.
Sinfield and Burrow shared an indestructible bond as players with Leeds Rhinos, taking all the trophies up for grabs and solidifying as legends of the game. Yet in the two years since Burrow was diagnosed with motor neuron disease , this bond was further strengthened. It’s not hard to see why. âTo my amazing friend Kev, you don’t realize the impact you have had on me and the entire MND community,â Burrow said Tuesday morning as they sat next to each other.
After running seven marathons in seven days last year to support people with MND, raising Â£ 2.7million in the process, Sinfield decided to push his body even further for his latest fundraising feat. . The goal? Running the 101 miles from his new employers, the Leicester Tigers rugby club, to his former stadium in Leeds in 24 hours without sleeping: the equivalent of just under four marathons.
Divided into 7km sections that Sinfield would aim to complete in less than an hour before setting off again, he was joined at various times throughout his Extra Mile challenge by Alastair Campbell and Brownlee brothers, Alistair and Jonny, as as guest runners. But it was the sight of Burrow’s wife Lindsey and daughter Macy running the last mile with Sinfield on Tuesday morning that really stirred up emotions in everyone watching.
The 41-year-old initially wanted to raise Â£ 100,000, split evenly between MND and Leeds Hospital Charity, where a new care home will be built in Burrow’s name. As of noon as of Tuesday, the total stood at over Â£ 1.1million and rising, underlining how the friendship between two of the greatest rugby union players of their generation has captured the affection of the public. The sight of Sinfield heading towards Burrow as he reached the finish line was poignant to say the least.
“I’m broken – I don’t know when I can run again,” Sinfield told the BBC shortly after arriving at Headingley. âRob knows how much we love and care for him. For those really dark times you have to think about Rob. It has been a real team effort on the part of the whole crew and I did. I wouldn’t have done it without them. It was certainly a battle. We wanted a battle and we had one.
Sinfield, perhaps understandable, couldn’t speak to reporters after taking on the challenge, and Burrow’s father Geoff said it was time for the 41-year-old to cut back on his incredible challenges endurance to protect one’s own well-being. âIt’s hard to understand,â he told PA Media. âAlthough we all knew he would, the bottom line is that Kevin take care of him. The money is great but nowhere as important as Kevin’s health. But he did, I don’t know How? ‘Or’ What.
Donations continued to flow in long after Sinfield completed his challenge, with the page repeatedly crumbling as audiences flocked to donate. The rugby league community calls Sinfield Sir Kevin given the way he has contributed so much to the sport during his distinguished playing career. He was awarded an OBE on the Queen’s Birthday Honors list in June of this year, but given his recent accomplishments, the nickname given to him by his followers could become a reality.