|9 Jun 2023
Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is an uncommon condition that affects the brain and nerves. It causes weakness that gets worse over time. There is no known cure for MND, but there are treatments to help reduce the impact it has on a person’s daily life. MND can significantly shorten life expectancy and unfortunately, eventually leads to death.
In December 2019, it was revealed that Rob Burrow had been diagnosed with MND. Rob is a former professional rugby player for Leeds Rhinos, England, and Great Britain, having won a total of 8 Super League championships, 2 Challenge Cups, been named to the Super League Dream Team on 3 occasions, and won the Harry Sunderland Trophy twice.
In July 2021, I was fortunate to play in a star-studded Rugby League All-Stars charity match, Rob Burrow All Stars v RB7 Select XIII. The ‘Rugby League All Stars’ with who I am fortunate to play as part of the squad now, raise money for the ‘Life for a Kid Foundation’. Rob Burrow was a huge advocate for the ‘Life for a Kid Foundation’ and played for the Rugby League All Stars on many occasions.
The Rugby League All Stars that I’ve been fortunate to play with and against include many big names in rugby league, including Lestyn Harris, Keith Senior, Adrian Morley, Danny McGuire, Willie Poaching, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Paul Sculthorpe, Jamie Peacock, Weller Hauraki, Chev Walker, Kylie Leuluai, Bennie Westwood, Gareth Ellis, Lee Radford, Wayne Godwin and the legend that is Sir Kevin Sinfield.
It is the legend that is Sir Kev that inspired me to take on the challenge of the Edinburgh Marathon on 28th May 2023, through following his amazing awareness and fundraising in his numerous running challenges since I played against him in July 2021.
What a journey it’s been for me. I’m so glad and honoured that I got to complete it with 2 of my children, Tom and Bailey, and one of my team from work, who stepped into my running partner's shoes with only 4 weeks to go as she had to drop out owing to injury.
I started my journey on the 1st November 2022 with an 8-week Couch to 10k programme. It’s been a bit of a struggle for me because although I’ve been majorly fit through rugby and boxing, I have never run more than 5 miles and certainly not more than 3 miles in the last 25 years. Owing to injury, the 8 week programme turned into a 12 week programme and I completed my first ever 10k at the end of January this year, just in time to start the 16-week marathon training plan.
The marathon plan was going very well with me religiously sticking to it and completing the 4 runs required each week ending with a longer run each Sunday. Following an 18-mile long run at the end of week 12 I felt an awful pain in my left lower shin/ankle around the area of the pins and plates I have from a spectacular rugby fracture-dislocation in 2008. I feared the worst but ran a couple of 10k runs with a lot of discomfort during the 2 weeks following, but reduced the number of runs I was doing, which was not ideal with the marathon fast approaching. It was following the last of those 2 runs, the Beverley 10k race, when I feared the worst, and sort the advice of a physio. I was diagnosed with a stress fracture in my tibia, meaning I was not allowed to run any further until race day. I was struggling mentally with the long-distance runs anyway, as it’s a long time to be out on the road by yourself but now I had to deal with 4 weeks of terrible preparation prior to the event.
I was however, determined to complete the marathon come rain, wind or shine, and finish it I did. Race day arrived and because of the lack of training during the 4 weeks leading to the marathon, it proved particularly tough, especially with the heat that decided to grace us on the day. Needless to say, we all finished, not being able to walk and looking like lobsters.
The marathon was not particularly in a time to get excited by as I wanted to finish under 5 hours, with initial thoughts of running 10 minute miles which would have equated to 4 hours 20 minutes. The latter was a possibility with how the training was going up to week 12, but adversity put a stop to that. However, I completed the marathon and it was the most physically and mentally challenging thing I’ve ever done.
All was going okay for the first 10 miles and felt good and on time for a 4 hour 30 minute time. However, I started to feel the stress fracture at this point and by mile 18 it was so painful that I ended up having a real battle with my own head to actually complete it. I did get over the line though and it’s because of all the support that people have given to make it worth it, especially the support of SPS Security yet again. It was all for MNDA that I’m very passionate in raising money for and I am lucky that pain is the only thing that I was having to battle with to complete the task, some people don’t have that choice.
My eldest son Tom was the quickest at 4 hours 27, then Ed (who I work with) at 4 hours 35, my middle son Bailey at 5 hours 18, and me at 5 hours 32.
I have managed to raise £1,040 collated from both my Facebook/Instagram donation page and JustGiving page which makes it all worthwhile.
With regards to the marathon, all I can say is that I’ve done it now but never again, ever! I’ll find some other challenge to do instead…
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