April 22, 2024

Rugby league legend Kevin Sinfield stopped short of the finish at the inaugural Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon to carry his friend over the line.

The event named after former Leeds Rhinos star Burrow, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2019, saw more than 12,000 people take part.

It was inspired by Sinfield, who pushed his former team-mate around the course in a specially-adapted wheelchair.

He then lifted Burrow up and carried him, to the delight of spectators.

As a crowd cheered them on, Sinfield gave Burrow a kiss after joining thousands of other runners in Leeds’ first marathon in 20 years.

Spectators also lined the 26.2-mile (42.2km) course – which started and ended at Headingley Stadium – to cheer them on.

One woman told BBC Look North it had been an emotional day, especially seeing the two friends completing the marathon together.

Another said she was there to support her 76-year-old husband, who was running his first marathon, with two false knees and four stents.

The marathon aimed to raise funds for The Rob Burrow Centre for Motor Neurone Disease Appeal and the Leeds Hospitals Charity, as well as a host of other causes.

“The support for the MND community through the Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon has been fantastic,” said Sinfield, who has himself set numerous fundraising running challenges in support of his friend.

Ahead of the race, Sinfield thanked all those involved for “creating something so incredible in Rob’s name”.

“Today is a celebration of friendship,” he added.

Sinfield has raised more than £8m for MND charities after several other ventures, including running seven back-to-back ultra marathons in November.

In late 2020, Sinfield ran seven marathons in seven days and in 2021 he completed a run of 101 miles in 24 hours.

Speaking before the big day, Burrow said: “Leeds is such a wonderful city and I am so grateful for all the support the city has shown not just for me and my family, but for the event and the entire MND community.”

Run For All announced last month The Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon would return in 2024 after an “overwhelming” number of people entered this year’s race.

Jenn Scribbins, from the Motor Neurone Disease Association, said the Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon was important to defeat the “devastating” disease.

“Six people are diagnosed every day and unfortunately there is no cure,” she said.

“What this event is doing is raising those funds to help us get closer to that cure.”

 

 

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