Charlie Bird will join England Rugby League legend and current England Rugby Defence Coach Kevin Sinfield OBE for the final stage of an ultra marathon in Dublin today, December 5th, as part of an epic challenge to raise awareness and funds to support those impacted by motor neurone disease (MND).
Supporters can show their support for Kevin and Charlie and can donate HERE.
Covering a distance of almost 44km, Sinfield will set off from Croke Park on his personal challenge at 12 noon with his route taking him through parts of Phibsborough, Ashtown, the Phoenix Park, Inchicore, Crumin, Rathgar, UCD and finishing at the Aviva Stadium at around 4pm.
Charlie is a journalist and broadcaster, who worked with RTÉ for many years in various roles before retiring in 2012. In 2021, he announced that he was suffering from MND and since then has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the condition and to help raise for charities such as the Irish MND Association and for Pieta.
In April 2022, Charlie, along with hundreds of friends and supporters, climbed Croagh Patrick, and in doing so raised over €3.5m for charity. A book, Climb with Charlie, looking back on an unforgettable day, was published, again with all funds going to the Irish MND Association and Pieta.
Charlie will join the marathon at the UCD running track, at a stage called the Extra Mile, which sees invited guests join Sinfield for one mile towards the end of the marathon. Charlie will continue on to the end of the route with Sinfield.
A year ago, Sinfield and his team completed his third challenge when they ran from Edinburgh to Manchester, covering over 40 miles a day for seven days. This is the first time the England Rugby Union defensive coach will travel to Ireland for one of his ultra marathons.
Since 2020, Sinfield and his team have raised over £8 million (almost €9.2M) with three endurance events that have captured the public’s imagination having been inspired by Sinfield’s former Leeds Rhinos team mate Rob Burrow MBE.
Commenting on his latest challenge, Kevin Sinfield said, “I am very happy to hear Charlie will be joining me in Dublin for the Extra Mile through to the end of the race; it means a lot to get his support and I was so inspired by everything he has done for the MND community in Ireland with the Climb with Charlie campaign.
“Physically this will be my toughest challenge as I have not been able to do the amount of training that I have done previously because of my commitments for the World Cup and we have set an ambitious time target to complete each ultra so people know that we will be pushing ourselves to the limit. I am looking forward to it and seeing all the support out on the streets once again. For the MND community, every second counts and we will be making the most of every step on this challenge to raise awareness, funds and support for that community. I would especially like to thank all the local authorities and councils who have given us their support, it means so much to everyone,” added Sinfield.
Charlie Bird, who recently received a special award from An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar for Climb with Charlie added, “It is a privilege to join in the Extra Mile with Kevin and his team; it is such an incredible task he is undertaking and I wanted to extend the hand of friendship and support in any way I can.
“What Kevin has done for the MND community in the UK is astonishing, and I look forward to joining him on 5th December for what is sure to be a wonderful occasion. I’m hopeful that we will see a lot of support from as many people as possible along the route.”
Lillian McGovern is the CEO of the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association and said: “Both Charlie and Kevin’s unwavering commitment to raising awareness for MND is admirable and we are very thankful to be part of this incredible challenge.
“We look forward to joining Kevin and Charlie in Dublin on Tuesday 5th December to cheer them on. Any funds raised will help us improve our services and supports available to people living with MND in Ireland and their families.”
About the Challenge
The 7 in 7 in 7 Challenge will see Sinfield and his team run an ultra marathon every day for seven days in seven cities around Great Britain and Ireland. Each run will be a marathon with an extra mile to signify the extra mile people can all go to help their friends in tough times. The aim is to complete each day’s run in under four hours.
Starting on Friday 1st December, three years to the day since Sinfield started his first 7 In 7 challenge in 2020, the team will leave AMT Headingley Rugby Stadium heading to York Minister in the first leg of the challenge.
For the first time, the 7 in 7 in 7 Challenge will take the fundraising to multiple cities. On Day Two, the team will travel to Cardiff, finishing the day on the pitch at half time of the United Rugby Championship game between Cardiff and Scarlets at The Arms Park. The third day, on Sunday 3rd December, will start at the Alexandra Stadium in Birmingham, the host of the 2022 Commonwealth Games before travelling around Birmingham, calling at St Andrews, Villa Park and Edgbaston en route to a finish in the city centre of Britain’s second city.
On the fourth day, the team will head across the border to Edinburgh, crossing the Forth Road Bridge before finishing at Scottish Gas Murrayfield. This will be a poignant moment as not only will it mark the halfway point of the challenge but also evoke memories of seeing Doddie Weir for the last time a year ago as he set Sinfield and the team off at the start of the Ultra 7 in 7 Challenge.
The team head across the Irish Sea on 5th December to run in Dublin inspired by former Munster Rugby Union coach Paul Darbyshire, who played Rugby League with Warrington and passed away from MND in 2011 when he was just 41. This is the first time the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association (IMNDA) will be involved.
On 6th December, Sinfield will head to the South coast of England to Brighton before concluding the challenge on Thursday 7th December running from Twickenham Stadium to the Mall, the traditional finish of the world famous London Marathon.
The team are inspired by MND sporting warriors Rob Burrow, Ed Slater, Marcus Stewart, Stephen Darby, the late Doddie Weir and the 5,000 other people living with MND, in the UK right now. In Ireland there are more than 450 people living with MND. The initial target is to raise £777,777 (almost €900K) from the challenge.
The 7 in 7 in 7 Challenge will support five charities which support and care for people affected by MND and their families, and invest in research to bring us closer to effective treatments and a cure for the disease.
The main beneficiaries will be the MND Association and Leeds Hospitals Charity’s appeal to build the Rob Burrow Centre for MND in Leeds. There will also be donations to the Irish Motor Neurone’s Disease Association (IMNDA), My Name’5 Doddie Foundation and the Darby Rimmer MND Foundation plus support for the 4ED campaign to support former Gloucester and Leicester Rugby Union player Ed Slater.