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Journalist hails ’emotional, powerful experience’ after marathon run

A journalist has described a marathon as “one of the most emotional, powerful experiences of my life” after completing the race.

HTFP reported earlier this month how Red Williams was due to take on the first Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon, which will raise money for the Rob Burrow Centre for Motor Neurone Disease Appeal and the MND Association.

The marathon is named for former Leeds Rhinos rugby league player Rob Burrow, who was diagnosed with MND in December 2019 and has since launched campaigns, supported by the Yorkshire Evening Post, to raise awareness of the disease.

Red, pictured, and his running buddy Pete Leach, passed by Mr Burrow and his former teammate Kevin Sinfield as they too took on the course.

Red Williams Leeds

Red, who has been a journalist for 43 years and most recently worked in the regional press on the Harborough Mail, told HTFP: “Running the first Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon on Sunday 14 May was one of the most emotional, powerful experiences of my life.

“I was one of over 12,000 runners from all over the UK and across the world who set out from Headingley Stadium in the early morning sunshine to tackle the new high-profile event. We were all coming together to help raise much-needed money for the Rob Burrow Centre for Motor Neurone Disease Appeal and the MND Association.

“The din was deafening as we headed out into Leeds, thousands of spectators, men, women and children, entire families, lining the route to send us on our way.

“Many of them were wearing Leeds Rhinos shirts sporting Rob’s name and his iconic number 7 to salute the local rugby league legend cruelly struck down by MND in December 2019 aged just 37.

“Bands belted out tunes, drums were banged and sweets, oranges and bananas handed out by supporters as we snaked out into stunning but undulating Wharfedale.

“I’ve run tougher marathons but this course gave us all a genuinely gruelling 26.2-mile challenge as we urged each other on. No more so than when we had to climb a back-breaking three-mile hill spiralling up into the skies out of the pretty market town of Otley squeezed between miles 17 and 20.

“But we were all inspired to dig as deep as we had to minutes after we’d been passed by ultra-marathon fundraising hero Kevin Sinfield pushing Rob in a specially-adapted wheelchair. We clapped and cheered them to the rafters as they powered past us riding a wave of pure emotion and goodwill.

“Running back into the Rhinos’ stadium the support, the noise and the crowds soared to even greater heights as we capped off the run and the experience of a lifetime.

“And I defy anyone to tell me that they didn’t have a tear in their eye when Kevin ever so gently lifted his best mate Rob out of his wheelchair and carried him over the finish line. Just an incredible day, an unforgettable race.

“We can all back the growing campaign to develop a cure for MND, which devastates the brain and nerves, and set up a cutting edge centre to give people with the illness and their families the best care and support.”

Those wishing to donate to Red’s cause can do so here.