Kevin Sinfield will shut out hopes of an historic England success at the Rugby League World Cup as he weighs up the risk factor of his latest epic fundraising challenge.
The former Leeds captain is set to complete seven ultra-marathons in as many days in aid of research into Motor Neurone Disease, by running into Old Trafford at half-time of the tournament’s finale on November 19.
Sinfield’s arrival could come amid a remarkable weekend for the sport, with the wheelchair final having taken place the previous night, and England’s women also hoping to feature in the earlier curtain-raiser.
But Sinfield says the scale of his ‘Ultra 7 in 7 Challenge’ – in which he will set out from Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh and endure seven back-to-back runs inspired by his former team-mate Rob Burrow, Doddie Weir, Stephen Darby and others living with MND – means he cannot afford to stray from the task in hand.
“I would love to turn up at Old Trafford knowing the wheelchair team has won the night before, the women’s team have won the World Cup and England are playing at half-time in the men’s semi-final, but I have no control over that,” Sinfield told the PA news agency.
“Arriving at Old Trafford is the big challenge for me. I can’t have any distractions at all – I will be fully focused on what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.
“We’re not doing it for rugby – we’re doing it for Rob and Doddie and Stephen, and the support from the MND community has been incredible. Rugby has been a vehicle to give it a big platform, but it’s not just rugby league, it’s rugby union and football and it’s important that all three codes come together.”
Sinfield’s previous challenges in 2020 and 2021 have already raised over £5million for research into MND, and the initial target of his latest quest is to raise an additional £777,777, the main beneficiary of which will be the MND Association and Leeds Hospitals Charity’s appeal to build the Rob Burrow Centre for MND in Leeds.
Sinfield’s route is set to take him through Melrose, Newcastle, Middlesbrough, York, Leeds and Bradford as he makes his way south targeting a timely arrival at Old Trafford.
The 42-year-old ran seven marathons in seven days in 2020, and the following year ran around 101 miles in under 24 hours from Welford Road in Leicester to Leeds Rhinos’ home at Headingley. But he admitted his latest challenge is by far his most ambitious yet.
“It’s certainly daunting, but if it wasn’t I’d probably be saying it’s not a big enough challenge,” added Sinfield.
“Challenges should provide self-doubt and some risk, and there should be a big chance of not completing it as well.
“The toughest part has been the training, when it’s dark and cold and raining and you’re out on your own with nobody watching.
“When you’re actually in the challenge, the well-wishers make such a big difference. Hopefully once again they will get behind what we’re doing and understand that MND isn’t incurable – it just hasn’t enough thrown at it so that they can find a cure.”
:: Supporters can show their support now at https://donate.giveasyoulive.com/fundraising/kevin-sinfield-ultra-7-in-7-challenge.