Leeds Rhinos legend Kevin Sinfield reveals epic '7 in 7 in 7' Challenge inspired by mate Rob Burrow
Sinfield, who captained Rhinos to seven Super League titles from 2004-2015, raised £8m for MND charities during his previous three epic tasks and will be venturing forth on a nationwide endurance feat next month. The’ 7 in 7 in 7’ challenge will see Sinfield and his team run an ultra-marathon every day for a week, in seven cities around Great Britain and Ireland. Each run will be a marathon, plus an extra mile to signify how far people can go to help friends in tough times.
Special guests will be invited to join Sinfield for each extra mile. The aim is to complete each day's run in under four hours. The England rugby union defensive coach’s achievements have raised awareness of MND nationwide since his former Rhinos teammate Rob Burrow was diagnosed with the terminal illness in 2019.
A year ago Sinfield and colleagues ran from Edinburgh to Manchester, covering more than 40 miles a day for seven days. That was intended to be the last of a trilogy, but Sinfield insisted: “There was always the caveat that Rocky 4 was my favourite Rocky film.
“The MND community have always given us incredible support and we wanted to find a way we could show that support for more people around the country. I would especially like to thank all the local authorities and councils who have given us their support, it means so much to everyone.”
The former England rugby league skipper warned: “Physically this will be my toughest challenge as I have not been able to do the amount of training I have done previously because of my commitments for the [rugby union] World Cup.
“We have set an ambitious time target to complete each ultra so people know we will be pushing ourselves to the limit. I am looking forward to it and seeing all the support out on the streets once again. For the MND community, every second counts and we will be making the most of every step on this challenge to raise awareness, funds and support for that community.”
The ‘7 in 7 in 7 Challenge’ will begin at Rhinos’ AMT Headingley Stadium on Friday, December 1, three years to the day since Sinfield started his first MND run. Leg one culminates at York Minster, with the second day seeing the team travel to Cardiff, finishing on the pitch at half time of the rugby union clash between Cardiff and Scarlets at The Arms Park.
The third day, Sunday, December 3, will start at Alexandra Stadium in Birmingham and call at St Andrews, Villa Park and Edgbaston en -route to a finish in the city centre. Day four sees the team head into Scotland, crossing the Forth Road Bridge before finishing at Murrayfield Stadium.
The team head across the Irish Sea on December 5 to run in Dublin, inspired by former Munster Rugby Union coach Paul Darbyshire who played league with Warrington and died from MND in 2011, aged 41. The following day Sinfield will head to Brighton before concluding the challenge on December 7, running from Twickenham Stadium to the Mall, the traditional finish of the London Marathon.
The initial target is to raise £777,777. Pledges can be made at https://donate.giveasyoulive.com/fundraising/kevin-sinfield or text Kevin10 to 70143 to donate £10 or Kevin20 to the same number to donate £20. The main beneficiaries will be the MND Association and Leeds Hospitals Charity appeal to build the Rob Burrow Centre for MND in the city.
There will also be donations to My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, the Irish MND Association and the Darby Rimmer MND Foundation, plus help for the 4ED campaign to support former Gloucester and Leicester rugby union player Ed Slater.
MND Association chief executive Tanya Curry hailed Sinfield’s “unwavering commitment and passion to raising awareness and funds in the fight against MND”. She said: “The fundraising from his previous challenges has helped us expand our services and invest in vital research into this devastating disease. This new endeavour, inspired by his friendship with our patron Rob Burrow and the 5,000 people living with MND in the UK right now, will continue his incredible legacy. We are so grateful for his continuing efforts and will be rallying behind him as he laces his trainers for 7 in 7 in 7.”
Esther Wakeman, chief executive of Leeds Hospitals Charity, described Sinfield’s efforts as “truly awe-inspiring”. She added: “Through his series of epic challenges Kevin has already contributed over £2 million to our Rob Burrow Centre for Motor Neurone Disease Appeal.
“We’re incredibly grateful to Kevin for lacing up his running shoes once again to fundraise as we still need £1.9 million to help make Rob’s dream of a specialist centre in Leeds a reality. The Rob Burrow Centre for Motor Neurone Disease is all about creating an environment for patients to receive the best possible care in a purpose-built centre where they can ‘live in the now.’
“It has also been exciting to see how the prospect of the new centre is already unlocking new opportunities to benefit people living with the condition in our region. All of us at Leeds Hospitals Charity wish Kevin good luck and will be giving him a great Yorkshire send off as he departs from Leeds.”