Kevin Sinfield given hero’s welcome as he finishes 101-mile MND run in 24 hours
Emotions were running high this morning as Kevin Sinfield inspirationally completed his 101-mile run challenge in just 24 hours in aid of motor neurone disease (MND) research.
The Leeds Rhinos legend completed the last mile of the 24-hour run alongside his very close friend Rob Burrow's wife, Lindsey, and daughter, Macy – with a clearly exhausted Sinfield admitting he was driven on by the presence of his former teammate.
At the finish line at Leeds Rhinos' Headingley stadium, Sinfield was greeted with a hero's reception from well-wishers in the stands, and warmly embraced Burrow after his inspirational run.
Sinfield was also greeted by Burrow's father, Geoff, at the finishing line, and the emotions were clear for all to see on Tuesday morning as he completed the run at around 8am.
Sinfield told the BBC: "It's been a real team effort from all the crew and I wouldn't have got it done without them.
"I'm broken – I don't know when I'll be able to run again! Rob knows how much we love and care about him."
He added: "It was really tough at times, especially the end, but it's down to my little mate here," he said.
Almost £850,000 so far been raised for research into motor neurone disease as a result of former Leeds Rhinos skipper Sinfield's gruelling 101-mile challenge, with donations continuing to roll in.
The 41-year-old embarked on his Extra Mile challenge on Monday morning, and completed the whole run – equivalent to almost four marathons in length – within his 24-hour target.
Inspired by his good friend and former Rhinos team-mate Burrow, who himself is fighting against MND, Sinfield decided to take on this new challenge after raising £2.7m last year with seven marathons in seven days.
He was joined by an entourage of cyclists, a medical support team and several guest runners throughout the journey, from Leicester Tigers' Welford Road stadium to Headingley.
The run was split up into legs of seven kilometres – a nod to the iconic shirt number worn by Burrow during his 493-game career with the Rhinos.
"We've really been buoyed by the support, it's been incredible, and the weather is great. The rugby gods are shining on us," Sinfield said after completing the fifth leg of his challenge.
"There have been so many people out, from both codes, league and union. The team is in really high spirits but seeing people coming out like they have really picks everybody up.
"Please keep giving, it will make a huge difference to everyone in the MND community. Thank you."
The cash raised from the challenge will be split between the MND Association and the Leeds Hospitals Charity appeal, which aims to build a new care centre in the city which will be named in honour of Burrow.
And it was the diminutive former scrum half who was in Sinfield's mind as he fought through the pain to keep stepping towards the finish line.
"That's what teams do, we stick together," he said. "We still look after each other, that's the great thing about rugby.
"I've said it before, when someone is in a bit of bother, a bit of strife, the Batman sign goes up and the group will come, that's probably the strength of that group of players.
"That's rugby, isn't it? Perhaps not all teams have it but ours did."
Burrow's dad Geoff, who was also at the finish line outside Headingley, added: "We can’t really express it – Kevin is Kevin. He is a legend inside the game and a legend outside the game."
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