Leeds Marathon 2023: Who is Rob Burrow - everything to know about Leeds Rhino career & MND diagnosis
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Rob Burrow MBE is an English former professional rugby league player who spent his entire professional career playing for Leeds Rhinos. The 40-year-old from Castleford, Pontefract has been deemed as one of ‘Great Britain’s greatest rugby league players’ and made more than 400 appearances between 2001 and 2017.
In 2017 Burrow announced his retirement from the sport after helping Leeds gain victory over the Castleford Tigers at Old Trafford for the Super League Grand Final. Just two years later, in 2019 Burrow publicly revealed he had been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease - a degenerative condition for which there is no cure.
At the time, Burrow told BBC Look North “It was a bit of a shock. I’d not had any sort of prep for being told that you have something where there’s no cure. It’s one of the frustrations, the doctors and specialists don’t know how you got it, and there’s not much they can do.
“You don’t know much about your life expectancy, for example, Stephen Hawking lived 54 years with it. Maybe it’s the athlete in us all, we don’t want to lie down and just take it, we want to compete.
“I’m going to get stuck into it, a bit like my career I was doubted and written off a few times so I’m really positive, taking the challenge and that’s the best way to be. It was a numbing moment, but a week further on [from the diagnosis] I’m in a decent place.”
Since then, Burrow has worked tirelessly to raise funds and awareness for the condition. Additionally, Leeds Rhinos captain Kevin Sinfield OBE and friend of Burrow has also been involved in fundraising including completing seven ultra-marathons in seven days to raise money for MND.
In 2022, Burrow received an MBE presented by Princess Anne at Windsor Castle for his commitment to rugby league. In 2021 he was also recognised for his charity work on the New Year Honours list.
Since his diagnosis, Burrow has documented his life with the disease to increase awareness and raise funds. A BBC documentary, titled ‘Living with MND’ aired in October last year where the former sportsman opens up about what it’s like to live with MND.
This weekend (May 14) Leeds is set to host the Rob Burrow Marathon to raise more awareness and funds for an MND unit in the city.
Rob Burrows thanked participants ahead of the race. He said: “I would like to say a huge thank you to all the amazing runners taking part in the inaugural Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon on May 14. Whether this is your first marathon or your seventh, I can’t thank you enough for your support.
“I’m looking forward to participating in the marathon and joining you all alongside my mate Kev for the 26.2-mile challenge. This event, for me, is about friendship and community spirit - helping each other to achieve goals.
“I want to express a heartfelt thank you to Run For All, Leeds’ rugby family and Clarion who have all worked tirelessly to make this event happen. Best of luck, enjoy the day and I look forward to seeing you cross the finish line at Headingley Stadium”.
The event will set off from Headingley Stadium on Sunday morning (May 14).