Barrie McDermott on Kevin Sinfield’s ‘superhuman’ challenge in support of Rob Burrow



Barrie McDermott

Rugby League expert and columnist @ RLBarrieMc10

Former Leeds Rhinos star Sinfield is more than halfway through his attempt to run seven marathons in seven days to raise money and awareness for Rob Burrow in his fight against motor neurone disease

Last updated: 12/04/20 20:56

Kevin Sinfield runs seven marathons in seven days in support of Rob Burrow and the MND Association

Kevin Sinfield runs seven marathons in seven days in support of Rob Burrow and the MND Association

Sky Sports rugby league expert Barrie McDermott on why he is in awe of what Kevin Sinfield is doing to raise money for Rob Burrow and the Motor Neurone Disease Association …

I was up early Friday morning to join my former Leeds Rhinos teammate and good friend Kevin Sinfield for the final part of his seven-day marathon in support of another of our little mates, Rob Burrow, as Rob continues his campaign to raise awareness about motor neurone disease.

Kevin was tired and understandably so on day four. There are many anti-Covid-19 restrictions in place from Public Health England and they have to comply with some very strict rules, but it was a real pleasure and an honor to be with him and his gang just as little of a voice change.

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Kevin Sinfield begins the first of his seven marathons in seven days to raise money and awareness about motor neurone disease

Kevin Sinfield begins the first of his seven marathons in seven days to raise money and awareness about motor neurone disease

Like everyone I am amazed at what he does, my goodness, has he not attacked it? He was faster on day two than day one, faster on day three than day two and Friday was a much more stable, slower pace – not my fault, honestly! – day with three marathons still left.

Initially, Kevin set out to raise £ 77,777 in support of the Rob and the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA), and this goal has since been smashed with over £ 400,000 raised so far.

That’s an incredible answer, and I think it’s a combination of two things. One is love, affection, love and warmth, all of which pay for Rob and his beautiful family, but it is also the recognition of someone who attacks a superhuman challenge with what seems easy.

You look at him and listen to him talk and he feels it a little. There was a point about the three hour mark on Friday when I was tucked in behind him where we had laughed at our team and all the signs in it where we were reminded of slashes Rob had played and he started to get a little tearful – he did not I do not know, but I also had a lump in my throat and tried to fight it for his sake.

Sinfield’s marathon effort to help Burrow

Kevin Sinfield on why he runs seven marathons in seven days in support of former teammate Rob Burrow.

It’s just the recognition that comes from people throwing money at the Covid plague 2020 that makes it such a big deal for someone who is so closely associated with Rob himself. We see it in admiration and wonder at Kevin’s achievement, and how Rob’s story is told publicly far and wide.

I had a video through, organized by ours Sky Sports colleague Brian Carney, from former British and Irish Lions and captain of Ireland rugby union Ronan O’Gara, who had seen it, looked at it and asked what he could do to help – and it makes people do it.

We are blessed to be part of the rugby league family, but I have a feeling this is bigger and wider and I got that opinion when we started our racing club with the horse Burrow Seven.

At any given time in the UK, 5,000 people live with MND. Unless it affects you personally, you are aware of motor neurone disease, but probably do not respect it.

When you see how it affects your family and the people around you, you give it a lot of your respect and what Kevin has done with his team around him is amazing.

He has people around him who really support him and do what is best for him. He negotiates busy roads and he needs that team to take care of that side of things. It’s like a police escort, because once you’re in that step, the last thing you want to do is step off your right leg to change your direction just a little bit.

His routine is pretty set; he has ice baths, he has compression garments, he has to refuel to get lots of calories in the body and then he has to sleep, only sleep for a few hours due to a determined and running mind, gets up in the early hours and be ready to go.

He typically starts at 7, so lack of sleep is something he has to deal with as well as delayed muscle soreness. and the effects that knock out several steps will take your hips, your knees and feet.

Rob is also grateful, and he has done nothing but thank people for the last 12 months because he has had so much humility and is so honest – and emphasizes much of the time on the effect he has had on people, even before his illness.

He can barely understand it, but he has sent some lovely text messages and voice messages and it has made the difference.

The ultimate goal for Kevin was that of £ 77,777, but after a few days it became realistic that there is no reason why it can not come to £ 777,777. The more we can do to promote it, raise awareness of the MNDA, tell Rob’s uplifting story and the story of this inspiring, enormous, superhuman effort, the better.

He is a master who does extraordinary things for a master.

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