Rugby League Expert & Columnist @RLBarrieMc10
Barrie McDermott on Kevin Sinfield's 'superhuman' challenge in support of Rob Burrow
Former Leeds Rhinos star Sinfield is over 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: 04/12/20 8:56pm
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 on Friday morning to join my former Leeds Rhinos team-mate and good friend Kevin Sinfield for the latest leg of his seven marathons in seven days in support of another of our little mates, Rob Burrow, as Rob continues his campaign to raise awareness for motor neurone disease.
Kevin was tired and understandably so on day four. There are a lot of anti-Covid-19 restrictions in place from Public Health England and they have to abide by some very strict rules, but it was a real pleasure and an honour to be with him and his gang just as a bit of a change of voice.
Like everyone I am in awe of what he's doing, my goodness, hasn't he attacked it? He was quicker on day two than day one, quicker on day three than day two and Friday was a much steadier, slower pace - not my fault, honest! - day with three marathons still to go.
At the start, Kevin set out to raise £77,777 to support Rob and the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA), and that target has since been smashed with over £400,000 raised so far.
It's an incredible response and I think it's a combination of two things. One is the fondness, the affection, the love and the warmth everybody fees for Rob and his beautiful family, but it's also recognition of somebody who is attacking a superhuman challenge with what seems to be ease.
You look at him and listen to him speak, and he is feeling it a little bit. There was a point around the three-hour mark on Friday when I was tucked in behind him where we had been laughing about our team and all the characters in it, reminiscing about pranks Rob had played and he started getting a bit teary - he didn't realise but I also had a lump in my throat and was trying to fight it back for his sake.
Sinfield's marathon effort to aid Burrow
Kevin Sinfield on why he is running seven marathons in seven days in support of former team-mate Rob Burrow.
It's just that recognition from people who are chucking money in the Covid-plagued 2020 that makes it such a big deal for somebody who is so closely connected to Rob himself. We're watching it in admiration, marvelling at Kevin's feat and how Rob's story is being told publicly far and wide.
I had a video through, organised by our Sky Sports colleague Brian Carney, from ex-British & Irish Lions and Ireland rugby union captain Ronan O'Gara who'd seen it, watched it and asked what he could do to help - and that's what it's making people do.
We're blessed to be part of the rugby league family, but I have a sense this is bigger and wider, and I got that sense when we started our racing club with the horse, Burrow Seven.
At any one point in the UK, 5,000 people are living with MND. Unless it touches you personally, you're aware of motor neurone disease but probably don't respect it.
Just received a lovely video from @RonanOGara10 in support of @leedsrhinos Kevin 7in7 & of course @Rob7Burrow been lots of encouragement especially from our cousins in RU thanks also to all who knew Darbs @Munsterrugby @IrishRugby https://t.co/J28uwyYU5R https://t.co/NjEGqTsMIe pic.twitter.com/gs1g3wAxqB— Barrie McDermott 🏉 (@RLBarrieMc10) December 4, 2020
When you see how it affects your family and people around you then you very much give it your respect and what Kevin has done with his team around him is amazing.
He's got people around him who are really supportive of him and are doing what's best for him. He's negotiating busy roads and he's got to have that team to look after that side of things. It's the equivalent of a police escort because once you're in that stride the last thing you want to do is step off the right leg to change your direction just slightly.
His routine is pretty set; he's got ice baths, he's got compression garments, he's having to refuel to get plenty of calories in his body and then he's going to sleep, only sleeping for a couple of hours due to a determined and racing mind, getting up in the early hours and being ready to go.
He's typically starting at 7am, so lack of sleep is something he's having to deal with as well as delayed onset muscle soreness and the effects that pounding out multiple steps will take on your hips, your knees and feet.
Rob is grateful too and he has done nothing but thank people for the last 12 months, because he has got such a lot of humility and is so honest - and underplays himself a lot of the time on the effect he has had on people even before his illness.
He almost can't comprehend it, but he's sent some lovely text messages and voice messages, and it has made the difference.
The ultimate goal for Kevin was that £77,777, but after a couple of days it became realistic that there is no reason it can't get to £777,777. The more we can do to promote it, raise awareness for the MNDA, tell Rob's uplifting story and the story of this inspirational, tremendous, superhuman effort the better.
He is a champion doing extraordinary things for a champion.