Kevin Sinfield overwhelmed by generosity as donations near £400,000

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Former Leeds captain Kevin Sinfield says he has been overwhelmed by the response to his latest fundraising challenge with donations fast approaching £400,000.

The ex-England rugby league international, who is now defence coach at rugby union club Leicester, is running from the Tigers’ Welford Road ground to Headingley – the length of almost four marathons – non-stop inside 24 hours.

The journey, which is being be split into seven-kilometre segments, was originally planned to cover 100 miles, but actually measures 101 with Sinfield once again proving he will always go the extra mile for his former team-mate Rob Burrow, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in December 2019.

Money raised from the run will be divided between the MND Association and the Leeds Hospitals Charity appeal to build a new care centre in Leeds that will bear the name of the former Great Britain number seven.

“I feel really good,” Sinfield said after completing the fifth leg near Nottingham. “We’ve really been buoyed by the support, it’s been incredible, and the weather is great. The rugby gods are shining on us.

“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.”

Speaking after arriving at Harthill to complete the 13th leg of his challenge, he said in a video message on Leeds Rhinos’ official Twitter account: “We’re 13 in, thanks to everybody who has given so far. You’ve made a huge difference. The support has been incredible.

“Please keep giving, it will make a huge difference to everyone in the MND community. Thank you.”

Sinfield was given a send-off in Leicester by the Coldstream Guards and received good-luck messages from Alan Shearer, Ian Wright and Mo Farah as well as Burrow, who aims to greet him at the finishing line on Tuesday.

The 41-year-old Sinfield is in regular contact with his former team-mate and says he is in his thoughts throughout the challenge.

“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.”

Kevin Sinfield – The Extra Mile Challenge – Leicester to Leeds
Kevin Sinfield receives some physiotherapy at the fifth stop at Bunny Hill Top near Bunny, Nottinghamshire during the Extra Mile Challenge (Zac Goodwin/PA)

In December 2020, Sinfield helped raise over £2.7million by running seven marathons in seven days and has already smashed through his initial target of £100,000 for his latest challenge.

As the clock neared midnight on Monday with Sinfield more than 63 miles in, his Giveasyoulive fundraising page had soared past £385,000, with another £77,000 in gift aid.

He had earlier insisted that despite a lack of sleep and plummeting temperatures as he prepared to run through the night, nothing would prevent him from completing the challenge.

“I’m prepared to keep going,” he said. “I don’t know how long my knees will hold up, but he’s a mate and he’d do it for me.”

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