Kevin Sinfield will again hold former team-mate Rob Burrow at the forefront of his thoughts when he takes on his latest remarkable running challenge this week.
On Monday (22nd Nov) Sinfield will start a 101-mile journey from his new Leicester Tigers club back to Leeds Rhinos in the space of just 24 hours.
He is aiming to raise at least £100,000 to be split equally between the MND Association and the appeal to build The Rob Burrow Centre for Motor Neurone Disease in Leeds.
The former England and Rhinos skipper admits he wants to take himself to “dark places” during the challenge to reflect the struggles that Burrow and other MND sufferers and their families go through every day.
Sinfield said: “That’s a big message in this – Rob is going through some bits now and it’s uncertain each day when he wakes up, it’s a little bit worse than the one before.
“He’s not sure what the journey is going to be like for him and where it’s going to take him, and we’re in the same boat on Monday.
“Yes, we don’t have MND but we’re going into a pretty dark place that we’re not sure what nasty things await us.
“We’re prepared to go in there – Rob thinks it’s hilarious and that’s great.
“We’re doing this for him and everybody else in the UK that is challenged by MND, every family member.
“I think seeing other people willing to go to those dark places is pretty powerful and we’ll give it our best shot.”
The run will be split into 7km sections, to mark Burrow’s iconic shirt number, with each section to be completed within an hour before the next leg starts.
Sinfield has never been beyond 12 hours of running before – when he covered 52 miles last week – and knows this test of endurance will challenge him even more than last year’s seven marathons in seven days.
The 41-year-old will have a 14-strong support team including his friends David Spencer and Chris Stephenson – who both hope to complete the 101 miles – four cyclists, and a host of guest runners completing each 7km section.
A physio, sports scientist and a nutritionist from British Cycling will also be on hand to help Sinfield, who plans to eat brioche cheese with jam, pizzas and sweets alongside nutritional supplements as part of his refuelling.
He said: “My wife came up with, ‘How far is it from Leicester to Leeds? Why don’t you run from club to club?’
“She thought I was crackers, though, when I said, ‘I’m going for a 12-hour run, starting at 3am,’ but she gets it.”
Sinfield has also welcomed the recent news that the Government will pledge £50 million towards MND research – but says that the battle against the disease doesn’t stop there.
He added: “The Government pledge is wonderful. The campaigning that has gone on from Doddie (Weir), Rob and Stephen (Darby) has been incredible.
“Without those three being so brave and courageous, I don’t think it would’ve come through.
“Late Saturday night when the news came through, I was thinking, ‘Do I have to run now?’ but the reality is yes, we do.
“We want to find a cure, find things that enhance people’s lives, keep them on earth for longer and make their journey more pleasant.
“But other side is the love, kindness and care that people need – that funding isn’t for that so we’ve got to keep banging the drum and doing what we do.
“Rob just burst out laughing when I told him what we’re doing which was exactly the response I expected.
“Every time I go to see him, he has that big smile on his face and the spirit is still there.
“We’re running on behalf of two great charities that Rob is so passionate about and he’s certainly a big motivator and inspiration in this.
“Last year gave us an incredible feeling of doing something that was good, and hopefully we get that feeling again.”
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