Kevin Sinfield has stressed there is no time to waste as he prepares to embark on his latest “crackers” fundraising quest in aid of research into Motor Neurone Disease next week.
The former Leeds Rhinos star, who will set off another series of seven back-to-back ultra-marathons from Headingley Stadium on December 1, remains frustrated by a perceived lack of urgency on behalf of the Government to fulfil a pledge to commit £50million to fighting the disease.
The 43-year-old Sinfield and his team have raised over £8m from a number of endurance events which started with their first ‘7 in 7 challenge’ in 2020.
Sinfield said: “It’s really important that the money is released as promised and used in the best possible way so that we can find a cure.
“People with Motor Neurone Disease don’t have time to wait. We all want things done now, we all want change now, we all want our great scientists across the UK to work together to find a cure, so there is some frustration.
“We know the statistics from diagnosis are that 50 per cent die within the first two years. People with MND don’t have time on their hands, so we’ve got to shift this quickly. As we saw with Covid, if you throw money at something you can get a cure.”
“(Rob) thinks I’m crackers but he fully gets it. He’s with us 100% in spirit, and he’ll be there at the start and the finish. He’s such an inspirational friend and I’m delighted to be doing it again.”
Sinfield admits he will embarking on his latest quest a little “under-cooked” due to the tight turn-around following his return from France where he was working as a defensive coach for England’s rugby union World Cup squad.
Having insisted prior to a similar epic challenge last year that his running days would soon be a thing of the past, he revealed his ex-team-mate, good friend and inspiration, MND sufferer Rob Burrow, described him as “crackers” for resolving to put himself through it once again.
But Sinfield, whose route this year will include trips to Birmingham, Brighton, Cardiff and Edinburgh, as well as Dublin for the first time, said he never considered hanging up his running shoes while a cure remains out of reach.
“There are 100,000 reasons why we shouldn’t go again but there is one big reason why we should and that is to continue representing this beautiful community,” added Sinfield.
“The messages, the emails, the face to face meetings – on average three times a day someone will stop me and tell me someone they know has got MND or has passed, and they want us to keep going.
“The awareness is crucial and will make such a difference to finding a cure for this disease. It’s shown me why I’m here on this earth, and that’s to try and help. I don’t think there’s a greater gift.
“(Rob) thinks I’m crackers but he fully gets it. He’s with us 100 per cent in spirit, and he’ll be there at the start and the finish. He’s such an inspirational friend and I’m delighted to be doing it again.”
Following his first quest of seven marathons in seven days in 2020, Sinfield ran 101 miles in under 24 hours from Welford Road in Leicester to Headingley in 2021. Last year’s challenge ended on the pitch at half-time during the men’s World Cup final between Australia and New Zealand at Old Trafford.
The Government said “good progress” was being made.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Good progress is being made against that commitment.
“Almost £37m of the £50m commitment has now been allocated to cutting-edge researchers, less than two years since the commitment was made.
“For the remainder, we continue to support researchers to apply for funding via the Medical Research Council and National Institute for Health and Care Research MND highlight notice.”